The Muslim custom of sueing those who disagree with what they say or do continues even when it comes to science. Or at least the Islamic version of science.
An Islamic Creationist Stirs a New Kind of Darwinian Struggle
Also weighing in on his side are very aggressive lawyers. They’ve repeatedly gone to court in Turkey to silence critics whom Mr. Oktar accuses of spreading “lies and insults.” Scores of Web sites have been banned at his behest.
ISTANBUL — As scientists around the world celebrate the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s seminal work on evolution, Adnan Oktar, a college dropout turned theorist of Islamic creationism, is working on the fifth volume of a 14-part masterwork that he says will bury Darwinism once and for all.
“Darwin and his theory are dead,” says Mr. Oktar, founder and honorary president of the Science Research Foundation, an Istanbul outfit dedicated to debunking the Victorian-era English naturalist. Darwin, says his 52-year-old Turkish scourge, is “Satan’s biggest trick on humanity.”
Mr. Oktar, who briefly studied interior design, hasn’t had much success swaying scientists with the weight of his research. “He is a complete and utter ignoramus,” says Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and Oxford University professor.
The physical weight of Mr. Oktar’s work, however, is considerable. Each volume of his anti-Darwin magnum opus, “Atlas of Creation,” weighs more than 13 pounds. Also weighing in on his side are very aggressive lawyers. They’ve repeatedly gone to court in Turkey to silence critics whom Mr. Oktar accuses of spreading “lies and insults.” Scores of Web sites have been banned at his behest.
These include the site of Oxford’s Prof. Dawkins, which Mr. Oktar — who writes under the pen name Harun Yahya — got blocked last fall after it posted an article entitled “Venomous Snakes, Slippery Eels and Harun Yahya.” Prof. Dawkins responded to the ban by posting a Turkish translation of the article. Mr. Oktar derides Prof. Dawkins, an outspoken atheist, as “a pagan monk.”
Mr. Oktar’s combative zeal has put him in the vanguard of what some secular-minded Turks lament as a dangerous phenomenon: a retreat from science into religious dogma. “We are trying to turn the trend back, but I’m not sure we’ll be successful,” says Aykut Kence, a biology professor at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University.
Prof. Kence has worked with like-minded scholars on a series of conferences and other events marking Darwin’s birth 200 years ago and the publication, in 1859, of “On the Origin of Species.” He last week joined a chorus of secular outrage over a decision by the official journal of Turkey’s state scientific-research council to pull a planned cover story on Darwin.
“If people can’t accept Darwin, they can’t accept science. They can’t think,” says Prof. Kence.
A recent survey found that only a quarter of students entering Turkish universities accept Darwin’s theory of evolution and that the proportion is much the same when they graduate. The findings, says Prof. Kence, are “very depressing.” Continue Reading →