Creation AND/OR Evolution: An Islamic Perspective

Biological Evolution – An Islamic Perspective
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mastervirt.lvlup.gr/quotations-by-ludwig-van-beethoven.php The stones are rounded, from having be rolled around by the currents. Near their source, rivers flow more violently and can carry larger boulders. Flow rate, and pebble size, both decrease downstream, until eventually the rivers can only transport the sandy ground-up residues. And this process of deposition must have taken considerable time.

I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was Man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying? This is not science; Rumi is sharing, so far as words can, his mystic insight into the unity of creation, and goes on to speak of losing his individual existence in the imperishable Divine. Matter, therefore, adopted the form of vapour which assumed the shape of water in due time.

The next stage of development was mineral life.

Different kinds of stones developed in course of time. Their highest form being mirjan coral. It is a stone which has in it branches like those of a tree. After mineral life evolves vegetation. The evolution of vegetation culminates with a tree which bears the qualities of an animal. This is the date-palm. It has male and female genders.

It does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off. The date-palm is therefore considered the highest among the trees and resembles the lowest among animals. Then is born the lowest of animals. It evolves into an ape. This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Miskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa. The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man.

Facts vs. Interpretations: Understanding Islam & Evolution

He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet. He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel. The one higher to angels is indeed none but God. Everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him. He, like Rumi, or Miskawayh, or much later Ibn Khaldun in a very similar passage in his Muqaddimah Prologue is not describing evolution, but rather something much more like the Aristotelian Great Chain of Being.

The different stages represent successive acts of creation, or especially towards the summit stages of progression of the soul, but do not represent historical continuity and descent.

Franz Rosenthal Source. The Islamic ideal of learning, and the view that the universe is governed by God-given laws, can serve as powerful incentives to science in general. In addition, much classical Islamic thought reflects the idea that the particular kinds of living things are wonderfully adapted to their environment, as a result of the way in which God has created them. In this context, Muslim scholars absorbed and refined the Aristotelian notion of the Great Chain of Being, and saw this chain as stretching from inanimate things through plants, to dates regarded as the most advanced of plants , to animals, up to man, and beyond man to the angels, as in the above examples.

We have here the idea of progress, but not the central evolutionary concept of change over time. The Ikhwan al-Safa Brethren of Purity used similar language to describe the overall unity and order of creation, which they regarded as an argument for the existence of God, but said [12] :. The species and genus are definite and preserved in matter. But the individuals are in perpetual flow; they are neither definite nor preserved. The reason for the conservation of forms, genus and species in matter is fixity of their celestial cause because their efficient cause is the Universal Soul of the spheres instead of the change and continuous flux of individuals which is due to the variability of their cause.

I do not want to go into Aristotelian notions of causation, but the point here is the assumption that species are fixed. This clear statement has not prevented some authors from claiming that the Ikhwan al-Safa had anticipated modern ideas of evolution. There are two powerful motivations for such a claim. One is the wish to redress the belittling that until fairly recently Islamic scholarship has received in standard Western accounts of the history of science.

This leads to the temptation to add to its very real achievements by finding insights that are not really there. The other one is to make evolution more palatable to Muslims, in order to counteract the malign influence of theological conservatives who claim that evolution is un-Islamic.

We can sympathise with both these motivations, but they should not lead us to distort our reading of the actual historical record. Some who should know better have gone so far as to suggest that Darwin studied Arabic at Cambridge, and was aware of Islamic thinking that foreshadowed evolution. Wishful thinking. Darwin gives a full account of his life in his very candid Autobiography 7 , and lists many precursors to his thinking in his great book, On the Origin of Species. Tusi [ CE] was a great astronomer and mathematician, and a great survivor. He survived being kidnapped by the Hashishin Assassin Shia sect, and subsequent capture by the invading Mongols, and even persuaded the Mongol commander Hulagu to build him a major observatory.

Tusi pioneered the study of trigonometry for its own sake, rather than purely as an aid to astronomical calculations, but bridged the two disciplines, and his work on combining geometric figures provided Copernicus with valuable intellectual tools. It is widely claimed that Tusi anticipated Darwinian evolution. None of them had an advantage over the others, because all of these particles consisted of common primary matter.

Lahore, Mughal period, circa CE. As soon as I read those words, I knew that something was wrong. Tusi was an Aristotelian, and so he would have believed that matter was infinitely divisible, rather than made up of fundamental particles. I became even more suspicious when the article went on to state:. Tusi explained that hereditary variability was the leading force of evolution. He wrote that all living organisms were able to change and that the animate organisms developed owing to their hereditary variability: "The organisms that can gain the new features faster are more variable.

As a result, they gain advantages over other creatures. Darwin, of course, knew nothing about mutations, but the problems with this passage go deeper than that. Tusi is presented here as showing a sophisticated 20 th -century perspective, according to which evolution selects, not only for favourable variations, but for variability itself.

This reads as follows:. Natural bodies, as bodies, are equal one with another in rank, none having nobility or virtue above the other; for one intelligible definition covers them all, and one generic form of primary matter constitutes them as a whole. The first variation to appear in them, so as to make them specified by the species of the elements and so on, does not demand such divergences as to necessitate the nobility of one above another.

Rather they are still subject to parity in rank and equality in potentiality. Thus, of solids, that whose matter is more submissive to the reception of forms is, from the standpoint of equilibrium of mixture, nobler than the others. This nobility possesses many ranks and numberless ascending degrees: and eventually a point is reached where the compound gains the faculty of receiving the Vegetative Soul, by which it is then ennobled.

Several important properties then appear in it, such as the ability to procure nourishment, growth, the attraction of the wholesome and the shaking off of the unwholesome. Nothing here that corresponds to modern concepts of evolution. There is no mention of particles. It derives from Aristotle, rather than from the atomists, as does the concept of Vegetative Soul. Instead of the ability to gain new features, we have receptivity of forms. I wrote to the author of the Azerbaijan Today article in the summer of , but have not received a reply.

Figure Anatomy of the Horse in the 15th Century Source. In India I in Ref 10 , Al Biruni came very close to formulating the idea of natural selection, as an inevitable consequence of the limitation of resources:. The life of the world depends upon sowing and procreating. Both processes increase in the course of time, and this increase is unlimited, whilst the world is limited.

When a class of plants or animals does not increase any more in its structure, and its peculiar kind is established as a species of its own, when each individual of it does not simply come into existence once and perish, but besides procreates a being like itself or several together, and not only once but several times, then this will as a single species of plants or animals occupy the earth and spread itself and its kind over as much territory as it can find.

The agriculturist selects his corn, letting grow as much as he requires, and tearing out the remainder. The forester leaves those branches which he perceives to be excellent, whilst he cuts away all others. The bees kill those of their kind who only eat, but do not work in their beehive. So people, and even bees, practice artificial selection. But in the next paragraph, he goes on as I read it to explicitly reject natural selection as we now understand it, because he sees it as violating the uniformity of natural law.

Instead, the surplus is removed indiscriminately:. Nature proceeds in a similar way; however, it does not distingish, for its action is under all circumstances one and the same. It allows the leaves and fruit of the trees to perish, thus preventing them from realising that result which they are intended to produce in the economy of nature. It removes them so as to make room for others.

And to this, he adds supernatural intervention, and divinely sanctioned historical catastrophe as warding off the disaster of overpopulation:. If thus the earth is ruined, or is near to be ruined, by having too many inhabitants. Its ruler - for it has a ruler - and his all-embracing care is apparent in every single particle of it - sends it a messenger for the purpose of reducing the too great number and of cutting away all that is evil.

Nature itself, however, is not an agent of selection, and there is no suggestion that species change over time. We do have the idea of competition for living space, but it seems to be in terms of competition between species, rather than between individual variants within a species, and it is only with hindsight that we can relate the ideas here to the ideas that led to the modern theory of biological evolution.

Elsewhere in his writings Chronology I there is what could be taken to be a clearer reference to natural selection:. Nature preserves genera and species as they are… On the basis of geometric laws. But if this is natural selection, it is natural selection as a conservative force preventing change. In this section, I have been following the analysis by Jan Z. Wilczynski in the journal Isis, with minor embellishments of my own. This shines through the two separate layers of translation classical Arabic to French; French to English in what I have used as my main primary source, Charles Pellat tr.

His most important work from the present point of view, Book of the Living Kitab al-Hayawan is unavailable in English, and although Pellat, through Hawke, gives extensive extracts, Pellat was not a naturalist and I fear this may be apparent in his choice of selections. A few quotations might give some of the flavour of his writing. Jahiz thinks that living things can be affected by their environment: IV, "Locusts and their larvae that live on fragrant plants become green, but turn another colour against a different background.

Lice are black on the head of a young man with black hair, light on that of a hoary old man… All men, wild beasts, domestic animals, birds and insects that live in [the black basalt desert] are black. He describes existence as a struggle, but between species rather than within species, with the stronger, or better equipped, preying on the weaker to give an overall balance.

Here al-Jahiz describes the struggle for existence [17] :. The rat goes out to look for its food, and is clever in getting it, since it eats all animals inferior to it in strength, such as little animals and small birds, the eggs and the young of the latter, and in general, the vermin which do not live in burrows or whose nests are flush with the earth. In its turn, the rat has to avoid snakes and birds and serpents of prey, who look for it in order to devour it….

The mosquitoes go out to look for their food as they know instinctively that blood is the thing which makes them live. As soon as they see the elephant, hippopotamus or any other animal, they know that the skin has been fashioned to serve them as food; and falling on it, they pierce it with their probosces, certain that their thrusts are piercing deep enough and are capable of reaching down to draw the blood All animals, in short, can not exist without food, neither can the hunting animal escape being hunted in his turn.

Every weak animal devours those weaker than itself. Strong animals cannot escape being devoured by other animals stronger than they. And in this respect, men do not differ from animals, some with respect to others, although they do not arrive at the same extremes. In short, God has disposed some human beings as a cause of life for others, and likewise, he has disposed the latter as a cause of the death of the former.

This in itself, of course, tells us nothing about the process by which they came into being. However, there is one passage in which he notes the similarities between wolves, dogs, and foxes, and explains this in terms of a common ancestor. Since he also talks about the fitness of animals to their environment, it would be tempting to see this as prefiguring evolution by natural selection. I think this would be a mistake. Although this passage seems important to us from our perspective, he did not dwell on the topic, and implications that seem obvious to us would not necessarily have occurred to a pioneer naturalist writing over years ago.

How is it justified to ban God i. Philosophers of science note that a scientific theory can be developed, changed, and eventually can even be abandoned. This should also apply to the theory of evolution. But for the reasons mentioned above, unfortunately, in reality, there is a lot of politics involved in questioning the theory of evolution. Indeed, a lot of political maneuvering happens in publicly defining, explaining, and scientifically questioning the theory. If you are critical of the theory, it is practically impossible for you to be published in academic journals, regardless of how strong your empirical data are or how probable your alternative hypothesis is.

The key logical problem for the theory of evolution is the claim of randomness and purposelessness: the claim that things have evolved from an ancient cosmic soup by chance, and random factors such as mutation and climate conditions. In addition, unearthing billions of years of earth history is extremely complicated. It is also destined to remain a tentative and incomplete task, given the immense amount of lost empirical data and immense time span we are looking at. It invites us to pay attention to the purpose and purposefulness of life.

With that guidance, which is to be followed not blindly but with sound reasoning and reflection on what we observe and experience in the world, we should be critical of all kinds of dogmatic subjective interpretations present in modern scientific discourse. Just because something is found in a scientific textbook does not mean it is necessarily scientific. Muslims should be willing to take the lead in such questioning and rethinking of the theory. Finally, the challenge for believers today is not about the theory of evolution; rather, it is about developing a science that is honest, open, enriching, and beneficial.

What follows are Dr. A theory in biology and a theory in physics are different things and clearly evolutionary theory does not have the same status as a physical theorem. The theory of evolution still warrants considerable study; nothing is proven or disproven. A major problem is that there is no opposing view allowed in biological science these days in Western academia.

It will be rejected from any scientific journal. That is why it looks like every published scientific study supports evolution. There is a need for a paradigm shift in biology. In the meantime, there are a couple of example observations that I would like to share as a biologist that make me question the theory of evolution.

Yet, we have not found them! Strangely, all the fossils we find are those of successful organisms. This casts doubt on the theory. Interestingly, what is thought to be an arms race between species can be easily seen as every living organism helping each other, or that they are all designed to be dependent on each other.

The results of population genetic studies confirm the fact that each species is dependent on others. In other words, you cannot have an ecosystem that consists of just one type of organism. Plants need animals, animals need other animals, animals need plants, they all need bacteria and fungi, etc. However, the evolutionists claim that the dependencies in an ecosystem are due to evolutionary constrictions. The nature of these constrictions, the origins of these limitations, and why evolution could not overcome them is never questioned.

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Who arranges these forces? If every organism in the ecosystem is a part of the ecosystem, what is the driving force behind this successful system? That presumably accounts for the diversity of organisms. However, according to evolutionary time, this probability is impossible. Even billions of years are not enough to explain the diversity in life forms. This is where a paradigm shift can be applied. One can look at all these events, and easily conclude that there must be an all-Knowing, all-Wise Creator and Sustainer controlling every aspect of life.

This belief would not stop someone from studying life and nature; on the contrary, it will make one want to study more and more the details of all the intricate relationships between organisms. It only makes sense if one believes all the changes surrounding life are governed by The One who creates and sustains all. For such a Creator, changing one thing to another is simply transforming particles from one shape to another.

That is also why living organisms have similarities. We all have DNA, we all have cells, we all need oxygen, water etc because we are all made by the same Creator and we all bear His signature. Heart cells require no outside intervention to work; they just do!

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The heart can also just stop suddenly. If evolution were to drive things to improve, we should have acquired voluntary control over autonomic processes such as the heart beating rate, but we have not. What is meant by evolution here? An evolutionist often talks about evolution as if it is a conscious being who has power and wisdom, and yet the theory, in fact, rejects such a being. Such contradicting and ironic statements are not uncommon in proponents of evolutionary discourse.

We start chewing our food and we have no control over the rest of its digestion. Our digestive system looks like its acting on its own and produces acid that results in the death of thousands of cells lining the digestive tract. Who is responsible for this almost sacrificial action that helps the human body? If every living being works for itself, why would these cells kill themselves to enable energy production for the body?

This fact could only make sense if the cells in the digestive tract work under the command of a being who makes them and who employs them to act wisely and for the sake of human needs. In contrast, if evolution were the mechanism to survive, as the evolutionist view claims, why are so many cells dying while you are trying to gain energy from nutrients?

Why does any cell in a multicellular organism operate for the benefit of the organism as a whole and not just itself? No animal with a digestive tract i. This currently is known as the microbiome. Gut flora are even needed for development. It is puzzling that we are dependent on organisms that are far behind us in evolution.

Why are we dependent on these organisms? One specific example that comes to my mind about the shortcomings of the theory is the case of Vitamin B12, which is made by bacteria in our intestine. B12 deficiency affects the brain and nervous system. However, if you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, it does not make sense for a multicellular organism like us to be dependent on bacteria to make such an important molecule.

Viruses are also a big problem for evolution. If they are an ancient life form, why are they dependent on their hosts like humans? Moreover, why have we not generated virus-resistance during the course of our evolution and the tremendous selection pressures in favor of it? The evolutionist claims that animals watch their babies for the survival of their species. This is a strange explanation, to put it mildly. Why would a mother animal sacrifice itself for some young and vulnerable animal?

If the evolutionary view is true, then a mother should not sacrifice itself for its babies, as it can always have another baby. As you see, the theory of evolution fails to explain the very compassionate acts we see before our eyes. In the springtime, we see all kinds of trees have all kinds of leaves.

If the purpose of the evolution of leaves is just to perform photosynthesis, why are there so many different shapes? The theory of evolution thus fails to make sense of diversity with its simplistic understanding of functionality. As far as I can see, the theory of evolution fails to explain the beauty in creation. I would interpret the diversity in the world and its beauty as clear signs of the One behind the scenes, speaking to us through His Artwork, disclosing His beauty, art, and love.

Sparing you all the specific details that I work on in my lab, I can tell you that from the data I have encountered in my years of scientific study, I personally conclude that nothing in the universe is random. How can I accept a chance-based theory of evolution when I see the opposite all the time? To give another example, as we all know, an apple tree gives apples, and there are seeds in it. First of all, the tree has to know when to start flowering, meaning it has to know spring time, summer time and fall or winter.

In addition, it means that the tree knows that insects, such as bees, would come to drink the nectar from its flowers, so its pollen could be fertilized.

Islamic Foreshadowing of Evolution

The apple tree has to decide to make nectar. Following that, the apple tree should know that it needs animals like birds to distribute its seeds. It should cover the seeds with a tasty apple to attract animals like birds. To make all this happen, the apple tree has to know what to get from the soil, send it to its leaves and make sugar in those leaves and then send it to apple fruit. Just a simple look at an apple tree shows how impossible the randomness claim of evolution truly is.

It makes much more sense to attribute the apple tree, soil, water, sun, birds etc. However, today we are learning that most of that region contains molecules that control gene expression or participate in architectural functions of the chromosome. There are layers and layers of controls and regulations. All these new findings opened new areas of research, such as epigenetics, microRNAs, insulators in the genome, etc. Contrary to arguments, the more we learn about biology the more it is impossible to deny a purposeful and knowing Creator.

In fact, our own DNA stands against evolution. The terminal portions of chromosomes are called telomeres. These are repeated sequences of DNA. These repeats are longest when we are born and shorten after each cell division. For example, we start with telomere repeats and as we get older the number repeats drop to 60, 50, 40 and eventually goes to zero as we age. In other words, we are aging as soon as we are born. Preventing telomere shortening is the hallmark of cancer cells. So, it is clear that we are destined to die.

However, if evolution is the way to get better why should our DNA have a program that schedules us to die? The Y chromosome is present only in males. Humans have 46 chromosomes, and 2 of them are sex chromosomes. There is an event called crossing over in paired chromosomes. Through this process, some of our features become like our mothers, and others resemble our fathers. For example, in our case, if the girl has 2 X chromosomes, one comes from her mother and one comes from her father. These two X chromosomes will exchange some pieces from each other. At the end, the X chromosome is a mixture of chromosomal material from her mother and father.

However, the Y chromosome does not have a pair, so its composition does not change. In fact, it is used to trace the biological trees of human populations. The analysis of Y chromosome suggests that all humankind came from a single man. The current belief is that all humans came from a single human ancestor male who migrated from Africa. Why is it so hard to believe that a Creator Who creates and sustains everything we see also created Adam? As far as I see, as a scientist trained in modern biology, the theory of evolution itself stipulates randomness, wherein no purposeful agent is accepted.

God is involved in every moment of our lives. He creates, sustains, and changes all beings at all times. Even in the context of such a simple human utterance, the meaning of the sentence changes depending on by whom and for what purpose it is being said.

Sayilgan, Pickwick Publications, , In Mathematics, it was al-Biruni, the great eleventh-century mathematician, who finally expressed that conviction by elevating numbers to the status of elements of function. We often think that things happen on their own. Or we think insentient and lifeless thing s , such as water, produce intricate life in a plant, simply due to its proximity to it.

Can this ignorant substance, water, really be source of intricate design and beauty and benefit in this plant? Does it have the qualities of knowledge, creativity, wisdom, power, to be its creator? Sperm released from the father race toward the egg in the mother.

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Once a sperm enters the egg, the egg membrane becomes impermeable to further sperm. This set of facts alone indicates comprehensive knowledge and purpose at work. How reasonable is it to presume that the sperm or egg know all this? Is it at all possible that somehow through mistakes in the genetic code, a sperm is equipped to go toward the egg and egg closes its membrane purposely and wisely?

Just this one event shows how things are interrelated and harmonized with each other. The events are so interconnected that it is impossible to claim that some random events or things could work together to produce this outcome. Furthermore, there are countless other interrelated events happening within the womb, and in the human body, let alone in all other species, all of which indicate immense comprehensive knowledge and purposefulness that rejects the possibility of things complementing each other by chance.

Another motivation may be to make up for excesses committed by some religious people, like the medieval Catholic Church censoring Galileo though we should also keep in mind that the clash between religion and science even in the Western context has been exaggerated for Christianity has supported scientific study more often than it challenged it.