Thursday, April 05, 2007


Creationism in the Muslim World

Taner Edis, who teaches physics at Truman State University, is the author of An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam. The Turkish born Edis spoke at KU on Tuesday.

During his talk on the creation-evolution debate in the Muslim world at KU on Tuesday, Taner Edis passed a book titled Islam Denounces Terrorism around the room. The book, an expensively printed volume, purports to be by Harun Yahya, who, it is claimed, is prominent Turkish thinker and author.

While the many books that carry the Harun Yahya pseudonym are often credited to Adnan Oktar, a fervent Turkish creationist, they should not be thought of as the product of a single author. They are more likely the product of a number of writers. Harun Yahya should be thought of, says Edis, as a sort of brand name for a variety of strict Turkish-based creationism that is well-financed, popular, and has a global reach.

There is a Harun Yahya website -- which can be viewed in some 36 languages, from Albanian to Uzbek. The Harun Yahya books are widely distributed in Indonesia, Europe, and Pakistan. The media savvy brand produces high quality magazines and DVDs, as well.

One chapter in Islam Denounces Terrorism claims that the "real roots of terrorism are Darwinism and Materialism." It promises to "examine the disaster Darwinism has visited on the world and reveal its connection with terrorism, one of the most important global problems of our time."

The U.S. based Discovery Institute has made overtures recently to the Turkish creationists. A March 30 post by Robert Crowther on Discovery's Evolution News and Views blog titled, "Muslim ID advocate weighs in on real source of conflict between Middle Eastern Muslims and Westerners," calls attention to an interview with Turkish creationist Mustafa Akyol.

On February 24 Discovery fellows Paul Nelson, David Berlinski, and John Lennox participated in an “Origin of Life on Earth” conference in Istanbul that featured a lecture by Akyol. Reports of the conference were posted by Discovery and Akyol, on his "White Path" blog.

As the book on terrorism was passed around the room, Red State Rabble was able to jot some notes on pages 120 and 121. The first presents a couple of idealized renderings of the markets in the old Ottoman Empire. The caption on this page reads:

Although the Ottoman Empire was a Muslim state, it granted its subjects religious freedom. Thus a peaceful multi-cultural mosaic was to be found in Ottoman lands. As seen in this picture, the state protected its citizens in accordance with Muslim moral teaching, providing for its poor no matter what religion they practised.

The facing page contains a painting of a European beheading and a photo, probably from Northern Ireland, of terrorized children being escorted by their mothers past a threatening mob. The caption here reads:

The mutual intolerance of Catholics and Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries still continues in some countries. The most innocent victims of these conflicts have always been the children.

Each caption gives an insight into how Western culture is seen through non-Western eyes. And, while both of these statements are quite true -- though they fail to account for the current slaughter of Sunnis by Shia and Shia by Sunnis -- they are unlikely, in our view, to sit well with Discovery's base on the religious right.

In addition to its outreach work in Turkey, Discovery also held a conference in Prague in 2005. We suspect that those who embrace creationism in Europe will be even less welcoming to Muslim immigrants, culture, and religion than their counterparts in the U.S.

Discovery Institute fellow William Dembski, for example, approvingly reprinted a commentary on the Paris riots on his blog decrying "policies which deprecated European culture, frowned on a national identity, lowered the birthrate, created a welfare state, imported ‘guest workers’, promoted mindless multiculturalism and relied on ‘international’ treaties for protection... "

DaveScot, an ID activists who blogs with Dembski at Uncommon Descent, commented on that post that, "Islam is a cancer growing on the planet. It needs to be killed not accomodated (sic). It’s an ugly, dysfunctional belief system even in milder forms, that subjugates the female half of the population. However, since we can’t just kill them all (we can kill the worst offenders though) we have to put a more attractive alternative in place."

With those sorts of attitudes it's hard to see how Discovery will knit together an international creationist movement that transcends religious affiliation. Then there's the problem of convincing people that Mohamed Atta and his fellow Al-Qaeda terrorists flew a jetliner into the World Trade center on 9/11 because it's a symbol of Darwinism.

We'll have more on Edis' fascinating talk on Muslim creationism in coming days.


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