Last night, University College London played host to a lecture by Dr Oktar Babuna and Ali Sadun Engin, who may be more familiar to readers of this blog as two of the people behind Harun Yahya, a catch-all pen name for the writings of the "Science Research Foundation", a Turkish Islamic creationist group.
The lecture, organised as part of the university's student Islamic society's Islam Awareness Week, was originally destined to take place in UCL's Darwin Lecture Theatre, but was moved following protests from students and academics.
As Damian Thompson, author of Counterknowledge, pointed out on a Telegraph blog yesterday, the student society had marketed the lecture as providing "an insightful view into the reality of evolution and the shaky grounds upon which several of the theories are based.”
He then showed just how "insightful" the folks at Harun Yahya can be by quoting from one of their books, The Dark Clan, which explains that evolutionary science is inspired by “a dark clan behind all kids of corruption and perversion, that controls drug trafficking, prostitution rings”. Evolution is the “greatest deception in the history of science”.
Now, many readers will no doubt be shocked that such counter-intellectual nonsense could be allowed to be expressed within the walls of one of our finest educational establishments. But should it have been banned? It's not as if the university was actively sanctioning the lecture – it was merely providing one of it's student societies with a venue to host an event. As free thinkers we can quite rightly oppose the encroachment of creationism into our education system, but can we really condone denying its advocates a platform altogether?
I'm not quite sure what my own view is on this, and I'd be fascinated to hear what the blog readers think – please leave your comments on this post.
Also, I've been unable to find any reports of what actually happened last night at the lecture – if there's anyone who went to it please get in touch (either by comment or email) and let us know what was said, whether there was an open forum for questions etc...