Out of the blue, I recently received an invitation from Turkish writer Harun Yahya to go to Istanbul for an exclusive interview. Yahya – whose real name is Adnan Oktar, aka Adnan Hoca – is an intriguing fellow indeed. He's probably the most well-known and vocal Muslim creationist. Unlike most Christian creationists, Oktar and his gang, a Turkish sect called the Science Research Foundation, don't believe the Earth is a few thousand years old. Oh no, they entertain a whole different flavour of stupid.
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I consulted Eugenie Scott, the wise and well-tempered head of the National Centre for Science Education – an organisation that makes it their business to defend evolution in the US. She said I should go, and suggested I press him on two issues:
1) Where do they get their funding from? Colossal as it is, the Atlas of Creation was sent out, unsolicited and for free, to thousands of educational and media outlets around the world, the Guardian included. It's gaudy but not gimcrack: production costs would have been truly phenomenal, and they would have had to lick a serious amount of stamps. Who's paying?
2) There doesn't appear to be any copyright permission or credits for all of the thousands of images in the Atlas. The legality of this last point is certainly perplexing. Why does Oktar remain unchallenged on this? There is a hilarious flipside to this question though. Page 244 has a picture of a caddis fly, with a legend that asserts – as virtually every page does – that the beast in question has always existed in its current form as demonstrated by a vaguely similar looking fossil, therefore evolution is bunk. Except it's not a caddis fly, it's a fishing lure, beautifully crafted by master tier Graham Owen, with the clearly visible hook piercing the man-made abdomen. Other exquisite examples of Owen's work also appear in the Atlas.
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Islamic creationism is a different but no less foul-smelling phenomenon to that of fundamentalist Christianity. It would be quite an adventure I'm sure, but I am torn. So, I put it to you, dear readers, should I go to Turkey to interview Adnan Oktar? And if yes, what should I ask him?
The comments are worth a look at.