June 3, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Kansas Debate Over ID Reverberates in Holland

“Is Holland becoming the Kansas of Europe?” asked Martin Enserink in Science this week.1  All that education minister Maria van der Hoeven wants to do is have some public debate about intelligent design, but the suggestion has caused an uproar among scientists who claim she wants to take Holland back to the Dark Ages.  On the contrary, van der Hoeven explains, she thinks it will promote dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims who are all united over the notion of a creator.
    The education minister is not a card-carrying member of the intelligent design movement, and explains she is not trying to impose or ban anything.  She was apparently impressed by the arguments of Cees Dekker, “a renowned nanophysicist at Delft University of Technology who believes that the idea of design in nature is ‘almost inescapable.’”
    While trying to encourage discussion, she has had to spend much time defending herself over this “tempest in a teacup” as she called it.  Why are scientists “scolding her” and saying it is “not her business to get involved in biology”?  One possible reason is that the news from Kansas “has made us all a bit more sensitive.”  Another may be the rumblings within the country: “Even in Holland, there are plenty of people ready to castrate Darwin,” said biochemist Piet Borst.  He thinks that “Vigilance is important” on this issue.  Dekker and van der Hoeven are taking this in stride.

Dekker says he’s puzzled by the outcry but chalks it up to a “Pavlov reaction” to ID.  “Many scientists associate it with conservative Christians, Kansas, and George Bush—so it has to be bad,” he says.  He hopes the debate will get more serious after the impending publication of a collection of 22 essays about ID and related themes, most of them by Dutch scientists, which he has co-edited.  Van der Hoeven has agreed to receive the first copy of the book at a ceremony in The Hague next week.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

Enserink ends with the reaction of John Calvert, supporter of ID in Kansas, to the idea of a debate over ID in Holland.  “I think it’s a dynamite idea,” he said.

1Martin Enserink, “Is Holland Becoming the Kansas of Europe?”, Science, Vol 308, Issue 5727, 1394, 3 June 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5727.1394b].

This is another remarkable story on the growing influence of the intelligent design movement around the world, even in liberal Holland where the words George Bush, conservative Christianity and Kansas produce Pavlovian barks.  Enserink points out that Holland is “not quite Kansas—after all, this is the country that legalized euthanasia and invented gay marriage.”  Yet even there a small but committed cadre of scientists, politicians and laymen find the arguments for intelligent design compelling, and they want the debate to be heard.  They are not castrating Darwin.  His impotence is his own (see next two headlines).  Dutch scientists are justly proud of their layman forerunner, the staunch Christian creationist from Delft, Antony van Leeuwenhoek – the father of microbiology – who helped lead science out of the Dark Ages (if there ever was such a period).  He demonstrated how creation-oriented science can be the best in the world, full of vitality and motivation and excellence.  When all the Darwinists can do is scream “Dark Ages,” you know their sunset is coming.  But when it is sunset on one side of the worldview, it’s sunrise on the other.

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