Every picture tells a story â€¦
AND this one speaks volumes about the rapid growth of the recently launched Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS).
At the end of April this year, we carried an exclusive interview with Levi Chui Monton, corporate secretary of PATAS, and have since kept in close touch.
Founded to promote atheism, agnosticism, humanism, atheism, rational thinking, and education through science, PATAS immediately embarked on a number of outreach programmes aimed mainly at young people. The first of these was a “Good without Religion” feeding programme, where food was distributed among around 300 children.
The picture of the 11-year-old girl holding a copy of Richard Dawkins’ Greatest Show on Earth, was taken at a later feeding programme in Cavite:
Levi told us:
This girl grew up in a religious family, and her mother was member of a religious group in their locality. The girl asked us a lot of questions about the creation of the world and about dinosaurs. PATAS president John Paraiso spoke to her, and, using Dawkins’ book and other teaching materials, explained evolution to her.
We were amazed by her reaction and acceptance of Mr Paraiso’s explanation, which dispelled the confusion she started out with. It was all fantastic. We also received many queries from parents of the children and were so happy that their feedback was positive. They even wanted to learn more about our science lectures.
What PATAS is doing in the Philippines – which is overwhelmingly Catholic – is nothing short of amazing, but from France comes dismal news.
A growing number of young Muslims there are falling for the creationist claptrap peddled by the the ridulous Harun Yahya, an outspoken Turkish-born Muslim advocate of creationism. Harun Yahya is the pseudonym of Adnan Oktar – and since January this year the 55-year-old has been on the offensive in France with a campaign that is clearly targeting the Muslim faithful.
Maroua Gousa was one who attended a creationist lecture at a mosque in the town of Ã‰vry. She admits she has always wondered about:
The dinosaurs and the origin of man … but at school, it cannot be refuted: we’re taught that man descended from monkeys. At home and in the Koran, [we're taught] that we descended from Adam and Eve, and that God created all living beings.
Depressingly, she finds Yahya’s creationist explanation “convincing”.