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The Different Steps of Human Evolution – Part 1

The Holy Quran acknowledges the role of clay in the creation of life but dismisses the notion that God played with mud and water to mould the mixture into the shape of man.

The Different Steps of Human Evolution – Part 1

The Holy Quran acknowledges the role of clay in the creation of life but dismisses the notion that God played with mud and water to mould the mixture into the shape of man.

A THARIQ, PALAKKAD

MARCH 15, 2023

The order of the universe proves that its creation and growth were not truly spontaneous events. Everything, from galaxies to individual cells, was created in stages, according to the Holy Quran. It says:

“He (Allah) has created you through different stages of existence.”[1]

From the big bang to the evolution of consciousness and the development of the soul to life after death, everything that has ever happened and will ever happen has followed this fashion. The only topics up for discussion in this article are how God created man and how that man is related to his God.

The creation

Until the early 20th century, man believed that the universe existed forever without a definite beginning. However, the Holy Quran explicitly rejects the notion of an eternal universe. Moreover, the verses of the Quran lend credence to the big bang theory as it states:

“Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a solid mass, then We split them asunder.”[2]

The Quran teaches that God formed the universe from a state of singularity through a massive explosion. This explosion also saw the creation of the universe’s four fundamental forces – gravity, electromagnetic force, and weak and strong nuclear forces. Scientists also argue that there are more, as yet unidentified, forces of nature. This was also accompanied by the production of several particles along with their corresponding pairs (antiparticles).

Our current knowledge of the universe is mainly founded on Hubble’s theory of the expanding universe, which was proposed in the 1920s. For an illiterate man of 6th century Arabia to know this fact would be truly astounding. Surprisingly, that seems to be the case. The Holy Quran says:

“And the heaven We built with Our own powers and indeed We go on expanding it.[3]

This was gradually followed by the formation of galaxies, stars, and solar systems. Then, God equipped the earth with the resources required for the creation of life. From a basic protein molecule to a sophisticated multicellular being, life had yet to begin its long journey. Evolution played an undeniable role in this.

First hints of life

3.5 million years ago, oxygen was scarce in the earth’s atmosphere. The ozone layer had not yet developed, leaving the world with a thin atmosphere that allowed radiation from every direction to enter, turning the planet into a scorching oven. Any living form that we see now would not have survived on such a planet. However, there was a pre-biotic life form during this period. They were able to survive in the intense temperatures since they drew their energy from heat.

The Holy Quran discusses this initial phase of life. But before getting into it, we need to analyse the term Jinn briefly, as in the Quran, microorganisms are referred to by this term. The word Jinn bears the literal meaning of anything with the connotation of concealment, invisibility, seclusion and remoteness. Commenting on this, the Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh says:

“It also has the connotation of thick shades and dark shadows. That is why the word ‘Jannah’ (from the same root word) is employed by the Quran to denote paradise, which would be full of thick, heavily shaded gardens. The word jinn is also applicable to snakes which habitually remain hidden from common view and live a life secluded from other animals in rock crevices and earthen holes. It is also applied to women who observe segregation and to such chieftains as keep their distance from the common people. The inhabitants of remote, inaccessible mountains are likewise referred to as jinn. Hence, anything which lies beyond the reach of common sight or is invisible to the unaided naked eye, could well be described by this word.”[4]

This usage of the term is further corroborated by a tradition of the Holy Prophetsa wherein he forbade using dried-up bits of dung or animal bones to clean oneself and warned those are the food of the jinn. Commenting on this, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmedrh writes:

“As we use toilet paper now, at that time people used lumps of earth, stones or any dry article close at hand to clean themselves. We can safely infer therefore, that what he referred to as jinn was nothing other than some invisible organisms, which feed on rotting bones, dung etc.”[5]

According to Richard Dickens and others, these pre-biotic bacteria survived by drawing heat from UV rays and lightning. Let us examine how these scientific truths square with the Holy Quran. It states:

“And the Jinn We had created before from the fire of hot wind.”[6]

God or potter?

After millions of years of upheaval, our planet eventually began to cool and become oxygen-rich. It was now time for life to begin. However, the ingredients for life had to exist before life itself could. The elements necessary for the creation of life are referred to as ‘organic materials’. These organic materials are in fact produced by living things. So, prior to the emergence of the simplest living form, it was impossible for organic materials to come into existence but from inorganic materials. Therefore, the question of how organic materials emerged from inorganic ones is the main issue we must tackle while discussing the genesis of life.

Scientists claim that this transition could only occur within the water. However, it is crucial that the organic materials be transferred right away to a dry surface following the process to prevent it from reversing. This paradox perplexed the scientists. The experts suggested that the ocean waves carried the organic molecules to a nearby rock or dry clay right after their creation. Over time, the organic components that survived gave rise to the simplest protein molecules. Proteins are inevitable for life, playing a crucial role in the functioning of cells, tissues, and organs. Therefore, moving organic molecules to a dry surface is a pivotal stage in abiogenesis. John Bernal writes: “The adsorption of clays, muds and inorganic crystals are powerful means to concentrate and polymerize organic molecules”.[7]

Look at how science explains the beginning of life in water and its subsequent dry stage, where clay plays the leading role. This scientific fact is in line with the Quranic verses. The Holy Quran says:

“And We (Allah) made from water every living thing.”[8]

In another verse, it states:

“And, surely, We created man from dry ringing clay.”[9]

To cut the story short, the Quran rightly acknowledges the role of dry ringing clay in the creation of life and dismisses the notion that God played with mud and water only to mould the mixture into the shape of man.

The powerless nature

The life thus formed was carried through evolution to the level of complexity that we see today. Science heavily relies on Charles Darwin’s theories to explain this journey. The Holy Quran does not agree with this view, even when it supports evolution. A precise understanding of the issue warrants a discussion of both ideas.

According to the Holy Quran, evolution took place as a result of Divine planning and direction. But Darwin attempts to base it on accidents. He claimed that millions of unintentional and accidental mutations led to the evolution of basic life into the complex human being. He argues that natural selection acted as the driving force behind this process. Natural selection contends that nature has the complete authority to determine which organisms should thrive or go extinct based on the circumstances. That is to say, all the complex mechanisms we see in the biological world resulted from mutations accidentally landing on the proper functional sequence among trillions and trillions of non-functional sequences.

How is it possible to believe that a complex species like Homo sapiens could have developed from billions of such unintentional mutations? According to Fred Hoyle, such accidental evolution is not just remotely impossible without divine intervention but bears the likelihood of a tornado whirling through a junkyard and accidentally assembling a 747 aircraft.[10]

Another scientist, Frank Allen of the University of Manitoba, calculated that it would require 10248 years for a single protein molecule to arise by chance[11]. This amount is astonishingly greater than the universe’s age, which has been calculated to be 13.8 billion years. Imagine how long humans must wait to be born, through this process, if a single protein molecule takes this long to form.

As mentioned, the Holy Quran asserts that the wonderful route of evolution is impossible without divine direction. According to this, God (and not nature) began the creation with water and clay and steered it through a process of gradual progression. Allah makes it very clear that He alone has the power to choose and determine who will survive and go extinct. The Holy Quran declares:

“And thy Lord creates whatever He pleases, and chooses whomsoever He pleases. It is not for them to choose. Glorified be Allah, and He is far above all that they associate with Him.”[12]

The author is a graduate student in Physics at Chandigarh University.

END NOTES

[1] Holy Quran 71:15

[2] Holy Quran 21:31

[3] Holy Quran 51:48

[4] Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth p. 363

[5] Ibid p. 363-364

[6] Holy Quran 15:28

[7] The Semantic Theory of Evolution by Marcelo Barbieri, Harwood Academic Publishers p. 86

[8] Holy Quran 21:31

[9] Holy Quran 15:27

[10] In the Beginning by John Horgan, Scientific American February 1991

[11] The Origin of the World – By Chance or Design? By Frank Allen The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, G. P. Putnam’s Sons New York, 1958

[12] Holy Quran 28:69

1 Comment

Muhammad Salim · March 15, 2023 at 8:56 am

Masha Allah

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