Written by Student Rights on 31 January 2012 at 11am

Creationists to Address Students at SOAS

This week will see further attempts by a group of creationists to spread their message on university campuses across the UK. On Tuesday 31st January an event entitled ‘Miracles of the Quran and the Creation of the Universe’ will take place at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). This will be followed with a lecture on Thursday 2nd  at Bristol University, and on Friday 3rd February by an event at the University of Central Lancashire which will address the topic ‘Today’s Science and the Evolution Theory’.

Both of these events have been organised to give a platform to Dr Oktar Babuna and Dr Turgut Asku, speakers who spread the works of the Turkish creationist Harun Yahya. Using pseudo-scientific language, religious exhortation and outright falsehoods, this group strives to dismiss evolution as “an unscientific theory and a hoax”. They have also compared Darwinism to Nazism, stating that “Darwinism is the hidden culprit behind both fascist regimes and the Second World War”.

On the Facebook pages for the events it is claimed that “Darwinism is totally neglected in the UK by the Muslim university students” and this has been supported by a world renowned expert on the subject. Last year, Student Rights drew attention to comments made by Professor Steve Jones concerning students walking out of his classes on evolution due to their religious beliefs.

In an article in the Telegraph, Professor Jones mentioned Harun Yahya and Dr Babuna as one possible cause of this, something that is entirely plausible given the global reach of the organisation. A YouTube channel called 'Yaratilistr' which promotes Harun Yahya ideas has had well over 20 million views and has 3,948 subscribers, and an English language channel has had 6.6 million views and has 3,754 subscribers. This is not a niche group, but one which is influencing thousands of people across the UK. 

The fact that these men are once again being invited onto campuses is deeply worrying. Whilst university should be a place where students have their view of the world challenged, this should not include giving religious organisations the freedom to spread false information under the guise of education.

Rupert Sutton, a researcher at Student Rights has said that “The fact that the views of this ludicrous organisation are being presented as scientific in an academic environment is simply appalling. We do not allow the teaching of creationism in schools so why do we allow these individuals to lecture on a publicly funded university campus? It is this sort of deceitful misinformation that has led to biology and medical students at universities such as University College London walking out of lectures on one of the most important parts of their course and will only hurt their own academic prospects in future.