‘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.