Monday, August 20, 2007

A weighty tome

One of the many cool things about working at a newspaper is the mail. You never know what the marketing departments at companies across the land are going to send you in an attempt to get their product in your pages. Of course, these unlooked-for packages often have unintended consequences; I recall one recent day on which newsroom productivity took a nose dive thanks to the dry ice that came as the refrigerant for a package of vegan soy ribs. But that's a whole other story.

Today the folks from the mailroom wheeled up six identical VCR-sized boxes, all of them suspiciously heavy. Each was addressed to a different editor and marked "Complimentary Gift." Since I wasn't one of the lucky few, I had to wait for Bob Davis to open his to satisfy my curiosity.

Turns out The Star is the lucky beneficiary of six copies of The Atlas of Creation by Harun Yahya. Yahya, it turns out, is the pen-name of Adnan Oktar, a Turkish "scholar" who, on the book's back cover, is said to have written "many books on political, faith-based and scientific issues." The Atlas is a refutation of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, and of much of the modern science that's based on it, all from an Islamic point of view. Fun.

According to a New York Times story I happened to read back in July, Atlas was shipped to colleges and science museums around the world. And now us. "Flawed" seems like a kind way to describe the book's logic. One chapter, for instance, wonders why there aren't hordes of mutated people and animals wandering the earth, and uses illustrations of human skeletons with six legs and three spines as examples that should exist if Darwin's theory is correct.

According to the shipping label, the book weighs in at 12 pounds, and runs nearly 800 11"x17" pages. A press release that came with the book said it's the first of seven volumes. I'd hate to pay Yahya's postage.