Religious fundamentalists and authoritarian creationists frequently need a scapegoat to scare the public with, though it changes over the years–hippies or Jewish communists or blacks marrying whites–anyway, this decade it’s gays and scientists. Perhaps the most over-the-top of the fundamentalists’ recent anti-science slanders involves comparing the theory of evolution, or just science in general, or the fake “materialism” bogeyman, to…Islamic terrorism.
Yeah, that’s right. Hard to believe they’d go there, but yeah they went there.
Some background: fundamentalists and creationists claim that the only reason why scientists would believe in evolution or global warming or “Earth goes around the sun” theory, is because 99.99% of scientists adhere to a secret religion called “materialism.” This word is not coherently defined, but as near as I can figure out, you’re a materialist if you think scientists have solved some scientific problems in the past, and might solve more in the future. Shocking, eh? This causes fundamentalists to say hilarious things about basic science, but it’s just part of a calculated economic and political agenda.
Now to see how over-the-top ridiculous and nonsensical this has gotten, let’s consider a recent anti-science scare piece by Rebecca Bynum in NER. Bynum begins by making a number of coffee-spittingly ridiculous errors about basic, basic science, such as, that scientists cannot explain electricity. We have to suffer through her absurd set-up, until she gets to the chase, metaphorically speaking. Here comes the money shot, the one most important claim that Bynum really needs to pound home.
Islam is, in essence, an extremely materialistic religion with many similarities to secular materialism: both remove human dignity and envision man as a slave. [Source.]
How logically incoherent can you be? Now Muslims, who believe in Abraham’s God, Jesus’ virgin birth and eternal Paradise, are supposed to be “materialists”!?
Now Bynum knows she has no evidence to back that up, and she knows it makes no sense. And we know she knows, because of the way she sneaks her dick (metaphorically speaking) into the popcorn box when she thinks no one’s looking. In other words, in the above quote, she’s lying.
But she figures her audience will grab onto it. And she might be right: probably her audience will grab whatever she sneaks into the popcorn box.
Bynum has to lie here, because Islamic terrorists, in their own words, say that they share the anti-materialism and anti-secular government values of Christian fundamentalist authoritarians, as we’ll see in a moment.
But now, let’s go back to the days immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
You show your true character when you’re in a crisis: how do fundamentalists act in a terrorist crisis? Man up? Sacrifice for the good of the country? Nah. Let’s angle for advantage!
God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve… I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way… I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.
By Dec. 1, 2001, the creationists at the Institute for Creation Research (founded by Henry Morris, see below) would add science to the list of those equated with Islamic terrorists:
Only 13 days after the act of terrorism [Sept.11] on New York, Public
Broadcasting Stations delivered a different, but another event of grave importance that was witnessed by millions of Americans—a [TV] special entitled “Evolution.” PBS…televised one of the boldest assaults yet upon both our public schools with the millions of innocent school children and the foundational worldview on which our nation was built. [Source: Institute for Creation Research]
Whoa Whoa Whoa. Whoa. Let’s stop a second. First, he says a TV documentary about evolution is similar to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, broadcasting a documentary on TV is “assaulting” schoolchildren. Um hmm. And next, a TV show about evolution is attacking “the foundational worldview on which our nation was built.”
This idiot has not read any of the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Jefferson described our separation of church and state as “a nation arises which vindicates to itself the freedom of religious opinion, and it’s eternal divorce from the civil authority.” [Jefferson to James Smith, 12/8/1822]
Our Founding Fathers did believe in reason and using your damn brain and not trusting infallible religious authorities. Also, the main authors of our founding documents didn’t believe in the Christian Trinity or the incarnation of Christ. But if you do, fine, your business. Either way, fundamentalism and hystericalism existed in their time, and it scared them to death. We’ll get back to the Founders later.
But now, back to creationist thumbsuckers equating evolution and the terrorist attacks of 9/11:
These two “assaults” have similar histories and goals. The public was unaware of the deliberate preparation that was schemed over the past few years leading up to these events.
Dramatic music: DA DA DA DUM!!
And while the public now understands from President Bush that, “We’re at War” with militant Islamics around the world, they don’t have a clue that America is being attacked from within through its public schools by a militant religious movement of philosophical naturalists (i.e., atheists) under the guise of secular Darwinism. Both desire to alter the life and thinking of our nation…
“Evolution” is PBS’s assault that’s coming to your children’s classroom—not soon but now… These evangelists in turn proselytize millions of victims in taxpayer-supported schools who can’t protect themselves and whose parents don’t understand that a vicious religious war for the mind has been declared on America from within.
[Source: Institute for Creation Research. Emphasis mine.]
Uh, why is this guy writing crap on the Internet if he’s not himself out to alter the life and thinking of our nation? If you want to keep our thinking the same, throw out your computer, please.
Meanwhile, back on Round Earth, what really motivates Islamic terrorists? Religion, maybe? Hey, how about instead of listening to super-chauvinist anti-scientists, how about if we ask a real terrorist?
Here’s an Islamic terrorist who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993:
…in a prison interview, Mahmud Abouhalima, convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, stated that his war isn’t against Christians but U.S. “secularists” who are exporting their way of life to the Muslim world….living in America allowed him “to understand what the hell is going on in the United States and in Europe about secularism of people, you know, who have no religion.” He said the United States would be better off with a Christian government because “at least it would have morals.”
…In his interviews…Abouhalima made it clear that his Islamic brothers have no fight with Christianity. He said the holy war is caused by the U.S. government supporting “enemies of Islam,” such as the state of Israel…
…Abouhalima was asked what he thought of all those secular people walking around the streets of Cairo and New York, while he sat in federal prison for trying to blow up the World Trade Center. He called them lost people, nonbelievers who lacked the “soul of religion.” Then he said: “They’re just like moving dead bodies.”
[Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/2001. Emphasis mine.]
In their own words, Islamic terrorists make it clear that they want to kill us, not because they share “secularism” or “materialism”, but because they hate “materialism” and “secularism.” They hate science, reason, freedom, equality and pluralism just as much as American religious fundamentalists do.
Note the similarity in language: the Islamic terrorist compares people with different beliefs to people without spirit, people already dead– a common theme in US fundamentalist political statements.
But Islamic extremism has not evolved independently of US fundamentalist creationism: on the contrary, prominent US creationists have traveled abroad to meet Islamic extremists and do everything they can to fan the flames of Islamic hatred for science and secular government.
In Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, the traditionally secular government is far more vulnerable than here, and religious extremism much more dangerous.
The father of modern creationism, Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) (which compared evolution to terrorism in the 2001 quote above), and his lieutenant Duane Gish, former vice-president of ICR, visited Turkey in the 90’s and participated in a creationist conference in Istanbul.
In Turkey an Islamic extremist group dedicated to fighting evolutionary theory, the Science Research Foundation (called BAV in Turkish), was formed by Harun Yahya (aka Adnan Oktar), and many US creationist attended BAV conferences in Turkey in 1998. [Source.]
The ICR bragged about their connections with the Turks in their newsletter [Impact, Dec. 1999].
US creationists hate secular government and science so much that, to them, anything, anything is better than the separation of church and state–they have done everything they can to inflame Islamic extremism and helped destabilize a ally of the US– and have helped to put Turkish scientists in danger.
Morris originally went to Turkey to find Noah’s Ark. At that he failed, but he and his US colleagues succeeded in crushing the free speech of Turkish scientists.
[Update: One former member of the BAV describes how the cult got their dogma by copying it directly from US creationists like the ICR:
For every [Harun Yahya] book, they will take a few key sources written by Christian creationist authors, mostly from the US. They plagiarize the chapters and paragraphs that agree with their creationist approach. Then they add the photos, a few ayat from the Koran, and sometimes a bit of a commentary. None of the ideas belong to [Adnan] Oktar. [ Source.]
The BAV went on to push a campaign of massive legal intimidation against evolutionary scientists, and Harun Yahya’s cult used female sex slaves to gain influence over wealthy and powerful people.]
In 2005, when the state of Kansas was rewriting its science education standards to make them anti-evolution, a member of the BAV, Mustafa Akyol, testified to the school board. The Kansas City paper, The Pitch, dug up some background on the BAV’s attacks on Turkish scientists:
…beginning in 1998, BAV spearheaded an effort to attack Turkish academics who taught Darwinian theory. Professors there say they were harassed and threatened, and some of them were slandered in fliers that labeled them “Maoists” for teaching evolution. In 1999, six of the professors won a civil court case against BAV for defamation and were awarded $4,000 each.
But seven years after BAV’s offensive began, says Istanbul University forensics professor Umit Sayin (one of the slandered faculty members), the battle is over.
“There is no fight against the creationists now. They have won the war,” Sayin tells the Pitch from his home in Istanbul. “…Today, it’s impossible to motivate [any scientists]. They’re afraid they’ll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV.“
…The Turkish government, he adds, refuses to take an interest, tacitly encouraging the ongoing effort against scientists. …As a result of the BAV campaign and other efforts to denounce evolution, he adds, most members of Turkey’s parliament today not only discount evolution but consider it a hoax. “Now creationism is in [high school] biology books,” Sayin says. “Evolution is presented [by BAV] as a conspiracy of the Jewish and American imperialists to promote new world order and fascist motives … and the majority of the people believe it.”
…Sayin says that creationism in Turkey got key support in the 1980s and 1990s from American creationist organizations, and [Turkish-born physicist Taner] Edis points out that BAV’s [Harun] Yahya books resemble the same sorts of works put out by California’s Institute for Creation Research. Except in Yahya’s books, it’s Allah that’s doing the creating.
[Source: The Pitch, Kansas City. May 05, 2005.]
So you just substitute Yahweh <–> Allah, or vice versa, and you get US creationism <–> Islamic extremism. The logic, the arguments, the anti-science, the slanders are all the same: evolution is a conspiracy; evolutionary scientists are fascists; scientists are called atheists, Maoists, etc. There is no difference between BAV’s language and the quote from American creationists above.
[Update: Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya, formed a religious cult centered on the BAV and its creationist anti-Darwinian crusade. The BAV launched hundreds of legal actions against scientists, critics and former defectors from their organization. News websites in were blocked in Turkey. WordPress.com, this blogging site, in its entirety–all its blogs–were blocked in Turkey in 2007 because some bloggers reported Yahya and the BAV’s actions. In 2008, they got all of Google Groups, and then Richard Dawkins’ website blocked entirely in Turkey. The creationist cult employed women as sex slaves to recruit new members, and as “wives” for the leader. Adnan Oktar/Yahya was eventually sentenced to three years for founding a criminal organization.
One former BAV member said: “We had something to please everybody: Ataturk [nationalism], namaz (prayer), creationism and, if need be, cocaine.”
So perhaps one difference between Islamic and American anti-evolutionists is the sex-and-drug cults. But then… insert Ted Haggard joke here. ]
Akyol from the BAV has emphasized the similarities between Islam and the US anti-evolution Intelligent Design movement, specifically the Discovery Institute:
Muslims should also note the great similarity between the arguments of the Intelligent Design Movement and Islamic sources. Hundreds of verses in the Qur’an call people to examine the natural world and see in it the evidence of God…
What Intelligent Design theorists like [Michael] Behe or [William] Dembski do today is to refine the same argument with the findings of modern science. In short, Intelligent Design is not alien to Islam. It is very much our cause, and we should do everything we can to support it. [Source.]
And what did Mustafa Akyol tell the anti-evolution school board in Kansas when he testified in 2005?
Muslims think that the West is a completely materialistic civilization that has turned its back on God… Since America is the leading country within the whole of Western civilization, it attracts much of this distaste. Unfortunately, that is one of the factors that create a breeding ground for radical Islam. [Source.]
Note his language, his attack on “materialism.” By materialism here, he does not mean greed, consumerism or capitalism, which are all mandatory according to Christian fundamentalists. He means science, evolution and the separation of church and state.
Translation: We Americans must get rid of reason and the separation of church and state, or his co-religionists will kill us. Abandon American values, or you die.
And now, a pop quiz. Here are two quotes on the same topic: “secularism” and liberal professors in universities.
Two quotes: which is American fundamentalist, which is Islamic extremist?
A. There are “thirty to forty thousand” left wing professors who are “termites that have worked into the woodwork of our academic society and it’s appalling… These guys are out and out communists, they are radicals, they are, you know, some of them killers, and they are propagandists of the first order… you don’t want your child to be brainwashed by these radicals, you just don’t want it to happen. Not only brainwashed but beat up, they beat these people up, cower them into submission. AGGGH.”
B. “Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities.”
The answer is at the bottom of this post.
Recall that the ICR creationists, friends of Turkish creationists who assisted in founding the BAV, above said evolution was an assault on “the foundational worldview on which our nation was built.”
Howabout, instead of listening to them, we actually ask our Founding Fathers about the worldview on which our nation was built?
Here’s John Adams, second US President:
The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history…
It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [making the US government] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven… it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
[John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88)]
Well guess what Johnny, it is “pretended” now! 24 hours a day every day at Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network!
So if evolution agrees with “reason and the senses”, and does not pretend it “had interviews with the gods”, how does it undermine the values our country was built on?
(And if the time ever comes that evolution no longer agrees with “reason and the senses”, then OK, off it goes.)
If the US fundamentalists on the school board in Kansas in 2005 had had any spine, any backbone, they would’ve listened to Mustafa Akyol’s testimony above; and told him that if his co-religionists can’t control their violent impulses, they have to change. Not us.
We have problems, true. But this country was built on reason and science, pluralism and tolerance, and the separation of church and state, the “eternal divorce from the civil authority” Jefferson wrote about. And they would’ve told Akyol and the BAV to go back to their country and, rather than fighting and slandering secular government and science and the use of reason, they should defend these things and tell their more violent co-religionists to change or f*** off.
But no…it’s Western scientists who are assaulting our schoolkids, huh? American creationists… anti-science, encouraging extremism, and cowardly when confronted with it.
And now… the answer to our “quote quiz” above. The less hysterical quote (B) is from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, who like Pat Robertson was calling for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the Iran’s universities, encouraging students to employ Iranian Islamic revolution-style radicalism. [Source.]
Of course, the more hysterical quote (A) is from American fundamentalist Pat Robertson [video.] He also describes the “thirty or forty thousand” left-wing professors as “racists, murderers, sexual deviants and supporters of Al-Qaeda– and they could be teaching your kids!” This is in reference to a book, America’s 101 Worst Professors, which lists no murderers at all, and no professor who beats anyone up. Among the dangerous profs listed in book was a professor of Peace Studies at a pacifist Quaker school. One real radical and asshole, Ward Churchill, has since been fired.