The Descent of Man

31 07 2007

‘The theory of evolution is a farce. I am 100% certain of this and I can prove it’. So I was told by an adult student of mine during my teaching days in The Netherlands. Of course I was flabbergasted and also incredibly excited to hear this undeniable proof that would contradict all those dusty know-alls I had come across in university. Proof that Darwin was wrong after all! This you just don’t expect in an English class on a rainy Tuesday evening and it certainly was a million times more interesting than the exercises on the past perfect tense I had planned. 

The Netherlands has a deserved reputation for being progressive and forward thinking – most of the time. The outside world knows all about the open policy to drugs, Amsterdam’s infamous red light district, tolerance of other lifestyles etc however there is also a lesser known band of über-christians that stalk this land also. These incredibly strict protestants go so far as to remove items from vending machines on a Saturday evening so that no business is carried out on the sabbath. The christians in The Netherlands are far from hidden away though. Everyone thinks of Ireland as being run by religious freaks but in many ways things are far worse here. The prime minister comes from the Christian Democratic party, the biggest party in the country. The state television stations are littered with specialised christian broadcasting groups. Even still it came as a surprise to find out that David Attenborough was being shunned on Dutch TV. Nope he didn’t insult the queen (illegal in NL by the way) he simply mentioned the theory of evolution in his series The Life of Mammals and as such the offending piece has been censored. One whole programme in the series will not even be shown because of its focus on evolution.

Baffling to think that this happens in 2007 in an EU country (OK I could imagine it happening in Poland) but then I guess their arguments are convincing as my old student (one of these religious nuts) explained with a straight face.

‘When animals breathe out their breath sinks to the ground but when a human breathes out their breath rises up to heaven, so obviously the evolution theory is wrong and God really did create the world in seven days’. Well there you go. It’s so obvious I’m astonished that Darwin missed it. Now please go and correct your encyclopedias instantly, there isn’t a moment to spare.

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26 responses

31 07 2007
tallulahbloom

Whattttttt!!! You are kidding?

31 07 2007
theswissjob

Being ia scientist I always find it good to keep up to date with the current theories and thinkings, even though I’ve never worked in the evolution field. I read a very interesting article recently on the arguments against intelligent design and all that whohah and it stregthen my opinion that they haven’t a leg to stand on. It’s still funny to hear the theories though!

31 07 2007
Grannymar

Next week they will say I never existed!

31 07 2007
The Swearing Lady

His breath what whats? Has he never been out on a cold day?

31 07 2007
lenfercest...

Oh, right.

He has an assured career in life sciences.

I didn’t know there were crazy fundamentalists in the Netherlands too.

31 07 2007
conortje

tallulahbloom – wish I was

theswissjob – some of their arguments are so baffling that it’s impossible to debate. I mean what are you supposed to say to the breath rising one?

grannymar – if they do we’ll all gang together to save you. Anyways, we have enough proof ;-)

sweary – I reckon he’s been out on far too many cold days

lenfercest – luckily he was a flower grower – remember that next time you see gorgeous Dutch tulips hehe

31 07 2007
Grandad

One thing that has often puzzled me –

Did the Theory of Evolution evolve, or was it created by Darwin in seven days?

31 07 2007
hidh

Hmm… as the only Dutchman here I feel I should add a little nuance to the story:

Attenborough was not shunned by Dutch TV, but by the conservative religious broadcasting association EO. Dutch public TV is not made by one state broadcasting corporation (as in the UK, Belgium, and I think also Ireland) but by a number of independent broadcasting associations who get allotted broadcasting time in accordance with their membership. EO is one of them, and with about 500000 members it serves the ethically conservative niche with suitable television (presumably, most of that niche is a member, they tend to be highly organised those Christians). None of the other 21 (!) broadcasting associations has a problem with evolution.

The Dutch public TV system has many drawbacks – but one has to admit that it is more democratic than most where, in the end, it is the state that determines what is broadcast and what is not.

31 07 2007
conortje

Grandad – 42!

hidh – we’re talking prime time broadcasting on one of the three state stations though and it’s not as if EO are some small group – they have many hours of airspace every day. On top of that EO also broadcast Dr Quinn Medicine Woman and Nederland Zingt. Off with their heads :-)

31 07 2007
Medbh

Conor, I was just reading not long ago that the Christians there were doing all they could to close the red light district and reverse the drug policy. Is there any real legislative campaign going on? I had no idea there were so many brainwashed/ repressed people there.

31 07 2007
hidh

@Conor – Off with their heads, absolutely. I must say I am a little surprised about then amount of airtime they seem to be getting recently. Must have something to do with the new rules (details of which I do not know). Should add that most of this airtime is not used to spread religious pseudoscience, fortunately, but for rather dull (and, admittedly, politically not too biased) talkshows and news programmes. I think that’s how the new rules work too (i.e. there is more central coordination now between broadcasting associations on which type of programmes are aired when and on which channel).

@Medbh – Do not worry. The Christians are doing what they can, as they have been doing for decades. I.e. not much will change. The Netherlands always have coalition governments, and the second largest party (in government and in Parliament) is Labour which would not get away with abolishing all those things. Do not confuse PM Balkenende’s christian-democratic party (CDA, the largest party in Parliament for most of the past century) with that of the EO-type conservative christians. CDA is mainstream and centrist, like most of Europe’s christian-democrats. I doubt, for instance, that Balkenende’s politics is more religiously inspired than those of “social-democrat” Tony Blair. And CDA has many proponents of the current lenient drug policies among its prominent members, like the well-known Maastricht mayor Leers (who wants to legalise cannabis altogether). So it’s not all black.

31 07 2007
Jovica

For some reason I get sent EO literature in the post.
It seems someone has added me to their mailing list.
Are they trying to convert me?

31 07 2007
Nick

Well I’m sure there are a few holes in the theory of evolution but good grief there’re about a million in the idea of God creating the universe. These anti-evolution types must have a few dozen screws loose in what passes for a brain. And they must be really scared of the frailty of their own arguments if they have to resort to banning the opposing ones. Now excuse me while I breathe upwards, raid a few vending machines (preferably with that delicious Green and Black’s choccy inside) and amend my Encyclopaedia Britannica with lots of very small green handwriting.

Oh BTW hidh its not just the BBC here in the UK, there’re three commercial channels, Sky and all the cable channels. Plenty of choice (for what it’s worth).

31 07 2007
hidh

Jovica, I am innocent. Honest!

31 07 2007
hidh

Nick – I know, plenty of commercial channels here too. I was talking about public broadcasting though.

31 07 2007
Jovica

Hmm, not sure whether or not to believe you hidh. It’s either your or the good Conortje himself who’s to blame. And frankly, I’m not sure I trust either one!

31 07 2007
conortje

Medbh – well things are definitely changing here that’s for sure – it’s definitely more conservative than it was

hidh – let’s blame prime minster potter

jovica – not me either but I wish I’d thought of it. They’d need an awful lot of air time to convert you :-)

Nick – I think you’re right – they’re frightened to have to face an alternative truth if what they believe is proved wrong

31 07 2007
alan

I can’t wait to come over to the Netherlands and experience the profound evolution discussions ;-)

31 07 2007
Ann

Wow. I bet he plans to take his holiday to The Creation Museum, where I’m sure he can collect all sorts of other proofs.

31 07 2007
manuel

Pass the tippex please. One day it’s big bangs next it’s men with long white beards. I cant keep up anymore….

1 08 2007
Rua MacTírean

thats really fuckin’stupid-I’m not even gonna try and be funny, thats just plain idiotic

2 08 2007
steph

Hilarious! In the same country where it’s legal to stone your brain out. Go figure.

2 08 2007
K8 the Gr8

Seriously?! I knew there was something about those Amsterdameese. I knew it wasn’t just stoned paranoia! I was practically tripping over my own breath over there with my un-Christian behaviour. Oh well. Animal heaven seems more appealing to me, anyway.

2 08 2007
Sassy Sundry

I knew something was up with that pesky theory. Will attack my books with a marker immediately.

2 08 2007
conortje

alan – I dare say we’ll have lots of more interesting things to talk about. Can’t wait :-)

Ann- the mind boggles doesn’t it

manuel – I reckon we should come up with a totally new theory and stick to it. otherwise it’s just way too confusing

rua – well said!

steph – ah well you see the thing here is that it’s not legal it’s not just illegal either.

k8 – full of cute doggies and kittens …hmmm you might be on to something with this

sassy – good on you – we have to keep our records up to date after all

2 08 2007
Nick

A totally new theory – of course, that’s the answer. I fancy the Skyburst Theory – human beings just dropped out of the sky one day, dug out their Rough Guide to Planet Earth, adjusted their backpacks and off they went to colonise the world and start chopping down rainforests.

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