Harun Yahya’s Dark Arts

Nathan Schneider in Seed Magazine:

ScreenHunter_05 Dec. 19 09.31 Harun Yahya is a pen name for Adnan Oktar, the leader of a small but well-financed religious community that's based there. After years of refusing to grant interviews, Oktar has begun welcoming Western journalists to meet with him. The BBC, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and many others have taken him up on his offer. In mid-October, I made the journey.

To many scientists, Oktar and his books are a running joke. His 17-inch tall, 850-page book called The Atlas of Creation, which began appearing in mailboxes of scientists across Europe and the United States two years ago, aims to debunk Darwinian evolution with brilliant color, sensational photo-collages, and Qur'anic exegesis. It presents hundreds of fossils, pictured alongside modern flora and fauna, as evidence that all species were created separately by God millions of years ago and have undergone no modification at all. The Atlas goes on to blame Darwinist theories for a whole roster of worldly ills, including fascism, terrorism, and even the Columbine shooting.

The Atlas's claims about genetics, zoology, and paleontology are full of error. Like many creationists, Yahya mistakes ongoing debates about the mechanics of evolution as evidence that the theory as a whole is in crisis. He grossly exaggerates the age of fossils of modern animals, labeling a snow leopard skull as 80 million years old, while the oldest remains known to scientists are far more recent. One blogger even discovered that some of the creatures pictured in the Atlas are photos of realistic fishing lures, with their hooks still visible. Yahya has arranged to have RichardDawkins.net banned in Turkey — along with dozens of other sites — for publishing this fact.

More here.