Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All in the Service of a Message

A Youngstown, Ohio school district has come under fire for its inclusion of a video for tenth grade science that is produced by Adnan Oktar, also known as Harun Yahya, who was once interviewed favorably in the Intelligent Design blog Uncommon Descent (and not so favorably by The Guardian).  Yahya has a long history of being an Islamic creationist, holocaust denier and was jailed for a time in Turkey for unseemly behavior involving his organization and young girls.  

The story, by Zack Kopplin, in the Daily Beast, has this:
Youngstown, Ohio, students are learning creationism in school with materials from a Islamic, Holocaust-denying group accused of being a sex cult.

A curriculum map (PDF) recommends teachers in this public school district show a creationist video, Cambrian Fossils and the Creation of Species, as part of 10th-grade science education. The video claims that the Cambrian Explosion “totally invalidates the theory of evolution.” The Cambrian Explosion was a time period, nearly 550 million years ago, where, over the next tens of millions of years, the number of species on Earth experienced a (relatively) rapid expansion by evolutionary standards. Christian creationists regularly point to this explosion of life as evidence for creation by God and against evolution.

Blink and you’d miss the Islamic connection in the video. A black screen flashes for less than one second that says “this film is based on the works of Harun Yahya.” In the right corner, there’s a gold bubble that says, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” in Arabic.
As alluded to above, it seems that U.S. ID supporters and creationists are perfectly happy to hitch their wagons to people like Yahya, as long as the message is anti-evolutionary. This is disturbing, since it obscures the other poisonous aspects of Yahya's message. Kopplin continues:
Youngstown City School District is trying to “teach the controversy,” which is an old creationist argument for sneaking religion into schools, Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Rob Boston told The Daily Beast.

“The district is doing its students a disservice by pretending that a controversy exists when none does,” Boston said. “That the district is apparently inadvertently using material produced by an evolution-denying, anti-Semitic Islamic TV preacher who has been accused of running a sex cult only makes the situation worse.”
All in the service of a message.

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