If you haven’t heard of Harun Yahya yet, you may sometime soon. Yahya (don’t you love that name?), whose real name is Adnan Oktar, is a Turkish apologist for Islamic creationism. He’s recently sent copies of his book Atlas of Creation to prominent scientists, academics, and members of Congress.
His avowed purpose is to show, not that Earth is only 4,000 years old or that The Great Flood accounts for mass extinction at one point in paleontology’s history, but instead argues that creatures haven’t evolved at all.
The principal argument of Atlas of Creation, advanced in page after page of stunning photographs of fossil plants, insects and animals, is that creatures living today are just like creatures that lived in the fossil past. Ergo, Mr. Yahya writes, evolution must be impossible, illusory, a lie, a deception or ‘a theory in crisis.’
Well, at least he’s trying a slightly different tack. Give him some credit for that.
The French, unused to nonsensical creationist arguments as we are here in the USA, took umbrage earlier this year when Yahya shipped French translations of his book to museums, universities, and lycees there. Thanks to scientists who spoke out against the book, the tightly controlled French school system was able to remove copies of the books from lycee and university libraries.
English translations of Yahya’s work, which is a high cost production, have been sent to prominent scientists at colleges and universities all over the United States including Brown, Columbia, Colorado, Chicago, and Brigham Young. American scientists have been less outraged than their French counterparts, used as they are to the culture wars between evangelical fundamentalists and scientists in American education, but they were amazed at the production values for such a handsome tome – full of nonsense though it might be:
If you went into a bookstore and saw a book like this, it would be at least $100. The production costs alone are astronomical. We are talking millions of dollars. – Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, biologist, Brown University
That raises the question – where would Mr.
Oktar Yahya get the funds to produce such expensive books – books that he gives away or sells for very modest prices? Well, Yahya says that he seeks no material gain from his works. But they are published by a Turkish firm in Ankara that resists all inquiries and distributed by a leading world wide distributer, SBS Worldwide, which – you guessed it – resists all inquiries (at least about Yahya’s works). So money’s coming from somewhere.
Where that somewhere is puzzles even Dr. Taner Edis of Truman State University, an expert on issues of science and religion, especially Islam. Edis, who is Turkish as is Yahya, says the Turkish press describes Yahya’s activities as supported by “donations.”