Damian Thompson should do a little more research into his anti-Muslim blog posts

In a post on a creationist seminar by a group of Muslims, being held at UCL today, Telegraph journalist and blogger Damian Thompson notes:

One of the main themes of my book Counterknowledge is the spread of Islamic Creationism. Guardian and Independent readers are comfortable with the notion that Creationism is the preserve of swivel-eyed American fundamentalist Christians. They are much less comfortable with the reality that Islam is the main engine of Creationism in the world today.

I completely agree with Thompson in his criticism of Adnan Oktar and his acolytes (‘Harun Yahya’ is a front for several people), and the brand of “Islamic science” they promote. In fact, I will go a step further and say they tap into ‘lowbrow’ anti-Western feelings amongst Muslims, and have a tenuous grasp on histories of science and philosophy to say the least; all this even before we actually look at their struggle to understand the science of evolution.

But what evidence does Thompson’s have to claim “Islam is the main engine of Creationism in the world today”? If he has any I would be interested in reading about it. The truth of the matter is that, much like other forms of ‘religious marketing’, Muslim missionary activities are far behind their Christian counterparts (and this should not be particularly surprising given the relative histories of the two religious groups in the 20th-century). The promotion of creationist propaganda material is not much different.

Ali Eteraz did some digging into Harun Yahya last summer and guess what he discovered? Christian creationist groups are affiliated with the Harun Yahya team and involved in their marketing strategies. Taner Edis, a Turkish scientist who is hardly a fan of Islam with a publication like An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam, notes:

[A] striking aspect of Yahya’s material is how much of it is taken, with minimal changes, from Western creationist literature such as that associated with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). Since the Quran is not as specific as the Genesis story, Islamic creationists usually allow an old earth, so Yahya discards flood-geology and is noncommittal about the age of the earth. But the rest is there, flavored with quotations from some “Intelligent Design” figures, and all set in a matrix of traditional Islamic apologetics hammering on how obvious it is that there is a designing intelligence behind all the wonders of nature. ICR-style creationism, which we tend to think of as a sectarian, evangelical Protestant peculiarity, turns out to be pre-adapted to an Islamic environment.

Damo should be careful: he is starting to make a habit of spreading counterknowledge when the subject of his discussion happens to be Muslims.

I also wanted to note Thompson’s use of ‘extremist’ to describe the Harun Yahya group. (He uses ‘crazies’ instead of extremist on his own blog which suggests an editorial decision by the Telegraph.) If he is identifying the Harun Yahya creationists as ‘extremist’ then I presume he can point to ‘moderate’ and conservative creationists? Liberal-reformist creationists perhaps? Certainly, based on what little the evidence we have, Adnan Oktar resembles a cult leader — but Thompson doesn’t mention that in his post.

Or is it that this group happens to be Muslim that makes them ‘extremist’ creationists?

It is worth noting should that Thompson’s concern about “British universities are filling up with science and medical students who reject the single most important discovery in biological science” is a real one, as was reported by the Guardian in 2006. However, unlike Thompson, the Guardian report notes that academia finds itself battling not just with Muslim students, but those of Baptist and Pentecostal backgrounds too. In addition, Inayat Bunglawala, about the closest to a “spokesman” for Muslims in Britain we will ever have (thankfully!), has been quite critical of Harun Yahya creationism — so it is not like there is some widespread grassroots movement to take over education of science in Britain by Muslim creationists (and even there was one, it would no doubt have connections with Christian groups!). I do agree that there is a genuine concern about this sort of ‘science’ receiving a positive reception amongst technically-literate Muslims — the sort who have A-Levels, degrees and an amateur interest in science: this says a lot about their ‘illiteracy’ in the humanities.

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6 Responses to “Damian Thompson should do a little more research into his anti-Muslim blog posts”


  1. 1 Damian Thompson February 26, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I should point out that in my book Counterknowledge I discuss the way Harun Yahya “borrows” ideas and designs from fundamentalist Christian websites.

  2. 2 eteraz February 26, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    even inayat bunglewala rejects islamic creationism and did so like 2 years ago

  3. 3 Yusuf Smith February 26, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    It is worth noting should that Thompson’s concern about “British universities are filling up with science and medical students who reject the single most important discovery in biological science” is a real one

    In the case of medical students, how much does this matter, even if the “discovery” is a real one and not just a theoretical one? Medical students learn medicine in order to forge a career treating sick people. One does not need to believe the central dogma which, to a certain type of western academic, separates a “rational” person from a “dogmatic” religious one.

  4. 4 thabet February 28, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Damian: Well, it would have been good of you to let your blog readers know about that. I took umbrage with your claim that “Islam” is the biggest vehicle for creationism; I did not dispute . There is a lesson in this for you, Damian: would you accept criticism from someone who was unable even to distinguish between a Roman Catholic and a Lutheran and simply lumped all Christians together?

    Yusuf: waalaykum salam. First, from what I have read evolution is not merely theoretical; it has been demonstrated and can be demonstrated. Secondly, medicine incorporates certain developments from the science of evolution; a good one being understanding resistance to antibiotics. Thirdly, I guess it is about intellectual consistency — it would analogous to a Muslim scholar rejecting some vital component of Islamic sciences (e.g. hadith studies); he would not have much credibility. Fourthly, your point about dogmas is a much deeper one — they go to the heart of intellectual disciplines are formed. My main point (don’t know about Damian Thompson) is the spread of Harun Yahya creationism is not consistent with either critical thinking nor with intellectual rigour as most of his claims are bunk.

  5. 5 windar 007 February 29, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I reply to thabet’s post: “First, from what I have read evolution is not merely theoretical; it has been demonstrated and can be demonstrated. Secondly, medicine incorporates certain developments from the science of evolution; a good one being understanding resistance to antibiotics.”
    Like all darwinists – thabet refuses to define his terms. Does he mean microevolution of MACROevolution? MACROevolution is indeed theoretical! I ask thabet to list all facts of MACROevolution. Show the readers where macroevolution can be demonstrated.
    Bacteria ‘becoming’ resistant to antibiotics has exactly nothing to do with MACROevolution. The bacteria remain the same genus & species before they were exposed to antibiotics as after. Furthermore, this shows no new genes (DNA) that would point to macroevolution. Antibio. resist. is simply the activation of genes that already exist or have been transfered to the population of bacteria via tiny loops of DNA (r factors). Creation scientists have no argument with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
    As evolutionist A.G. Fisher said in a secular encyclopedia, “Both the origin of life and the origin of the major groups of animals remain unknown.” Yup, macroevolution is a fact!


  1. 1 Harun Yahya pops up in Scotland « pixelisation Trackback on April 8, 2008 at 1:20 pm

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