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creationism / embarrassment / Harun Yahya
1.       thehandsom
7403 posts
 03 Nov 2008 Mon 01:03 am

The idea of intelligent fundamentalists, like the theory of intelligent design, does not stand up to 30 seconds´ scrutiny.
But ideas do not die, they spread and mutate. Creationism might be on the back foot in America, but it is blossoming elsewhere as Richard Dawkins discovered when Turkish readers told him they could no longer access his website. Dawkins´s offence was to satirise Harun Yahya, the pen name of Adnan Oktar, the front man for a wealthy Islamic publishing house. Its lavishly illustrated Atlas of Creation spends 500 pages comparing fossils with present-day species to argue that evolution never took place. Dawkins looked at a picture of an ancient fossilised eel and a picture of what Yahya claimed was a modern eel and pointed out that it was in fact a sea snake.

Yahya went on to represent the immutability of God´s creation by claiming that a fossilised insect had survived unchanged for millions of years. Unfortunately, the modern version of the caddis fly Yahya chose to illustrate his point was not a fly at all, but a steel fish-hook with a fake insect on top to lure fish on to the line.

Yahya is a joke, but few Turks are laughing. Index on Censorship reported last week that the Turkish courts and the Islamist government were banning Turks from accessing YouTube and the hosting sites Blogger and WordPress for various moral and political reasons as well as richarddawkins.net. When Bianet, a Turkish human rights group, published a critical piece, Yahya told its journalists: ´This is an insulting article, take it off the internet or we will have you banned like Richard Dawkins.´

´On the one hand, fundamentalists say all they want is a debate,´ said Padraig Reidy of Index. ´But as soon as they get power, they close debate down.´

Westerners say that Yahya reminds them of American creationists. The link is more solid than they know. In Atlas of Creation, Yahya acknowledges his debt to Duane Gish from the Institute for Creation Research in Texas. Gish has spent years arguing that the fossil record contains no evidence of species evolving and blustering whenever a palaeontologist contradicted him. As a Muslim, Yahya did not need to accept the institute´s Protestant fundamentalist ´young-Earth´ doctrine - the notion that God made the world in 4004BC or thereabouts. But he happily borrowed Gish´s equally idiotic delusion that today´s species cannot have evolved and must therefore be identical to their ancestors of tens or hundreds of millions of years ago.

Vast sums of probably Saudi money are fuelling the move of creationism across the Atlantic. In Turkey and the Middle East, poor schools are grateful for Yahya´s free books and scientists are becoming frightened of speaking out. Last year, the Council of Europe warned that Yahya was also targeting schools in France, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland. ..

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