Creationism: A Pain In The Backside

A long time ago I co-wrote a book on the Tour de France. I say this without a great deal of pride; many much better books have been written on this subject. It didn’t sell very well either, mostly due to the publisher’s decision to give it the appearance and weight of an encyclopaedia (which it wasn’t), at a price roughly equivalent to a plumber’s mate’s weekly wage. Had it been brought before the public as a modest paperback, printed on cheap recycled paper, sales might have run into the tens, or even hundreds. But what do I know about marketing or product placement?

Still, the effort of ferreting out interesting facts and figures from the first 75 years of this greatest of all annual cycling events has left me with an abiding love for the Tour de France; a love that even this year’s complete shambles hasn’t entirely dispelled. What it has done is deprive us of an iconic hero, a winner (pace Alberto Contador!) who is larger than life and who dominated the pack and reigned supreme in the mountain and time trial stages. There’ve been many such heroes in the history of the Tour, but this year who could qualify?

Not a single one, I think. My accolade in 2007, therefore, goes to German Andreas Klöden. He was not among the bunch of dispirited pedaleurs who freewheeled all the way to Paris on Sunday. No, poor Andreas withdrew at stage 17, having fallen and broken his wrist the previous day. OK, I know: one broken wrist doth not a hero make. But what of the fact that he had also fallen into a ditch during stage 6 and as a result rode out the next ten stages with a suspected fractured coccyx? Have any of you any experience of the excruciating pain this useless appendage to our spine (aka “tailbone”) can cause us? I have, for I once slipped on the stairs and landed very hard right on my lower back. For days I couldn’t sit, walk, lie down or even stand, except on my hands. No, Andreas Klöden must be a man of quite exceptional teeth-gritting getting-on-with-it ability. A hero, in other words.

Which brings me to a question that’s been bothering me. If the lord has not allowed man to evolve from primates but created him whole -and, I must add, in his own image- why did he lumber him with a rudimentary tail? Not only do these four or five fused vertebrae serve no purpose whatsoever, when fractured or bruised they will cause hellish suffering. Is this some cruel joke on the part of the almighty? And what of the appendix? There’s another useless vestige of an organ that may have had a function in some remote ancestor, but today is known exclusively for the pain and misery it can cause us. For the answers to these and other questions I might have wanted to turn to a hitherto impeccable source of truth and knowledge regarding the divine masterplan, Holland’s Evangelical Broadcasting Company (EO). “If there is a god”, I used to think, “then he is indeed fortunate to have such a sterling bunch of upstanding, shiney-eyed and rosy-cheeked followers doing his PR for him.” What a let-down, then, to read in my favourite morning paper, that the EO has admitted to editing out from their radio and TV offerings -especially nature films and documentaries- any material that might be construed as supporting the notion of evolution. In fact, the mere mention of the word may set the censor’s scissors a-snippin’. This came to light when a lecturer at Utrecht University (subject: evolutionary biology) compared a series of nature films by David Attenborough in versions shown by the BBC, the Belgian TV station Canvas and the EO. The lecturer in question, Gerdien de Jong, found that, while the others broadcast the films in their entirety, the EO consistently removed any footage that might cast doubt on the biblical conviction that man was created by god. Also, the texts of voice-overs sometimes differed from those in the original version. Not very ethical, you’d say, but EO director Henk Hagoort is unrepentant: “We’ve been ‘adapting’ nature films since we started”, he says, “It’s no secret. We don’t believe that man descends from monkeys.” But is it right to deny viewers access to evolutionary theories? “I had to laugh when I heard that”, Hagoort says, “We don’t shirk the debate on evolution. We once broadcast a panel discussion on the subject of  ‘Adam Or Ape?’ But we’re certainly not going to champion evolution theories in nature films.”

You can see that these musings place me right at the sidelines of the playing field where Darwinians FC are soon going to battle it out with Creationism United for the Universal Truth Trophy. I used to think creationism, like roller derby, was primarily an American pursuit, with the 1925 trial in Tennessee of biology teacher John Scopes as an early spectacular setback for the Adam and Eve brigade. After the Tennessee State Court’s dismissal of the case against the evolutionist Scopes the creationists kept a low profile for a very long time. Not that they ever went away altogether, but they were for many seasons licking their wounds and playing in a lower division than the Darwinians.

Today, however, they’re back and putting in a lot of gym time preparing themselves for the final showdown. Like their rivals, they appear to have a worldwide fanbase, so be prepared for a lot of crowd trouble. And a few own goals besides.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jay said,

    Since you wrote about the Tour, do you think it is still worth following? I decided to give up after last year’s Landis’ doping fiasco. And this year too, things are not much different. 😦

  2. 2

    Gert Korthof said,

    Here are links to the youtube demonstrations with comments in English:

    here is the original source:

  3. 3

    Iain said,

    Wrongfooted again.
    I could have sworn you were about to close your circle of discourse with a few judicious cycling/Tour metaphors to describe Creationist tactics.
    But no…. football jargon.
    It may be the beautiful game (I say “may”) but it doesn’t guarantee an optimum aesthetic conclusion for your piece.

  4. 4

    […] it is also the country’s largest public broadcaster. Details in English are scarce, but blog Greene’s Insite gives us a window on some of the reports: What a let-down, then, to read in my favourite morning […]

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: