"Minister Van der Hoeven wants intercultural debate on evolution in
education and science"
"The Theory of Evolution is incomplete"
"Faith or evolution? Minister Van der Hoeven wants debate. 'There is so much
we don't know yet'."
From "De Volkskrant", Saturday, May 21st, 2005.
Interview by Michael Persson and Ben van Raaij
The debate on the theory of evolution has flared up again. In the American
state of Kansas hearings are taking place on
Intelligent Design (ID), the notion that life is the product of an
intelligent designer. In the Netherlands there is debate
on Islam and evolution and on the curriculum in christian schools.
Time for a talk with minister Van der Hoeven, who recently commented
favorably on ID in her weblog - which resulted in her
having to answer questions on the subject in Parliament.
The minister wants to make one thing clear in advance: "I don't intend to
intervene in the secondary education curriculum.
But I can't avoid the conclusion that religious viewpoints often elicit a
negative reaction. Now that scientific
investigations expand the boundaries of our knowledge again and again, I
feel that new knowledge and new and different
viewpoints should be treated with respect. I disapprove of people totally
condemning each other's points of view".
- We take it that you are referring to the conflict between faith and
"Life is billions of years old, and it is clear to see that evolution has
occurred. But we also have to acknowledge the fact
that the Theory of Evolution is not yet complete, and that new discoveries
are still being made. Should I take an official
position on this in my capacity as a member of government? No, but one
should have an open ear and eye for different points
of view. I consider it important that scientists can debate this without
immediately assuming an
- How are you going to handle this?
She gets out a writing-book with her own notes. "I have considered this. How
do you handle this in such a multi-religious
and multi-scientific society? In any case, what I intend to do is to host a
hearing on this topic in my department. I intend
to invite people like Piet Borst [M.D.] and [the biologist] Ronald Plasterk,
but also Cees Dekker [nanotechnologist and
ID-supporter] and representatives of various religions. I am strongly in
favour of people becoming acquainted with one
- You are creating the impression that there is in fact a debate - one which
isn't running smoothly.
"An example. Ten years ago there was a certain amount of commotion about
questions in the high school Biology final exams in
which it was implied that the Theory of Evolution was the only theory we
have on the history of the origins and development
of life. The answer, then, was: we don't have all the answers yet. That
debate is rearing its head again now. As a member of
the government you shouldn't close your eyes to that. You shouldn't take a
specific position, but you should know what the
issues are, bring people together. Especially now that there is the risk of
extreme positions being taken up".
- But, by doing so, aren't you in fact encouraging such extremist positions?
In Islamic schools, for example?
"They do in fact strongly support the idea that evolution doesn't exist. At
the same time, schools with a non-denominational
background say: the theory of evolution that we have today is what it's all
about. Now look, of course that's never going to
lead to an inter-cultural dialog. That debate must be given its place in
- But does that debate belong in Biology class, or in Comparative Religion
"We prefer for young people to become acquainted with different views. That
is laid down in our education standards. It is
part of your development to adulthood that you get to hear ideas from
different vantage points: he believes such-and-such,
or: this is the scientific state-of-the-art".
- But faith and science are separate domains, aren't they?
"Well, if I listen to Cees Dekker ..."
- Dekker publishes in _Nature_ on his quest in search of biological building
blocks, but never on ID.
"And yet, he is willing to accept that there is more than just these
self-developing building blocks. He is searching for
... a pattern. We are all searching for patterns. That is the major
challenge at this moment. In the history of science
there have often been moments that we thought that we knew pretty much all
there was to know. Now we realize that we don't
know everything yet, not by a long way".
- And you believe that science could conceivably come round to the creation
concept of ID?
"You never know where that quest wil end. There's no predicting that".
- Scientists prefer to keep faith and science well apart.
"I regret that. Science is compartmentalized. But the forte of science is
acknowledging other people's science as such, even
if it's not your field of expertise. If there are different views on
evolution, we should place them side by side. That is
the level on which I want to conduct this debate".
- Back to the theory of Evolution in secondary education.
"Our education standards call for young people to be presented with a wide
range of viewpoints. They are supposed to become
acquainted with each other's culture and religion. That applies to schools
of every denomination, public [i.e.
non-denominational] schools included. How exactly they implement that is for
them to decide. I am not laying down the law on
- In the United States attempts are being made to establish ID firmly as an
integral part of the education system.
"You won't hear me say that I want my views to be established as part of the
educational system, and that I should want the
theory of evolution removed - absolutely not. But I do feel that you can,
and should, trigger young people's curiosity".
- Even in Universities?
"I know that right now there is a debate going on with Muslim students who
say: I don't believe evolution at all.
Universities should engage in that debate. Religious feelings are very
deep-seated. You need to make allowance for that,
everyone's entitled to that".
===================== end of interview ==============================
(To reply, unconfuse the 'bot).
It's good to know that her 'proposal' for such a 'debate' got shot down
by the vast majority of the people in the netherlands, including people
from her own Christian democratic party.
But it is not exeptional.
Many educated people too tend to underestimate "survival of the
They think Evolution should have more than that to come up with so
But even as far as there is intellegent design,
evolution can be shown.
>From the first piles of stone,
to the latest state-of-the-art building today.
Same goes for cars, airplanes, ships.
They too evolve.
And what is fit survives.
Funny. . .
Peter van Velzen
I believe the spiritual to be solely within the realm of the human
The sweet feeling you get when a high ranked government official of your own
country claims the earth is flat.
Now I know what it feels like to be an American (no offence)
Non taken, but, in my opinion, that should have been "...feels like
to be an American official." Granted most of the American populace is
terminally ignorant, but not all.
Contempt of Congress meter reading-offscale.
Hello, theocracy with a fundamentalist US Supreme
Court who will ensure church and state are joined
at the hip like clergy and altar boys.
America 1776-Jan 2001 RIP
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president
represents, more and more closely, the inner soul
of the people. On some great and glorious day the
plain folks of the land will reach their heart's
desire at last and the White House will be adorned
by a downright moron." --- H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
Religion is the original war crime.
-Michelle Malkin (Feb 26, 2005)
>On Mon, 23 May 2005 18:20:58 +0200, "Niels van der Linden"
>>The sweet feeling you get when a high ranked government official of your own
>>country claims the earth is flat.
>>Now I know what it feels like to be an American (no offence)
>Non taken, but, in my opinion, that should have been "...feels like
>to be an American official." Granted most of the American populace is
>terminally ignorant, but not all.
I think it was meant in the vein of knowing what it feels like to have
your government officials doing something intensely foolish in the
name of religion. In that sense, "feels like to be an American" is
correct, as we all have had our government officials doing stuff like
that for quite some time now.
Creationism in The Netherlands