Evolution

Bismillah Irrahman Irrahim

“We have decreed death for you, and we never fail to replace you and to initiate you as something you cannot comprehend.” The Qur’an 56:60-61, ‘Ali Fazeli’s literal translation.

The Qur’an confirms, among other things, two important facts: one is that evolution is a divinely guided process in which God creates whatever He wills; the other is that evolution, even for humans, will continue. In the future humans will incarnate in totally new forms that are so different from our present evolutionary forms that we cannot even comprehend them. Praise be to God the Lord of the universes!

The Qur’an prophesies, as I’ve shown in my other article Astronomy in The Qur’an that our galaxy will collide and merge with the Andromeda Galaxy. It gives various other prophesies that will  happen on the Last Day, the Day of Retribution, all of which fit the description of the galactic collision and merger. These things will all happen over a period of 3-4 billion years. The Qur’an also describes the folding of the Heavens. These things, as I’ve shown in Astronomy in The Qur’an, are confirmed scientifically. But these things will all happen not literally in one day, but over millions or billions of years. It suffices to say that between now and the times at which these things will happen, humans will have plenty of time to evolve. By the time of the Resurrection, humans will have evolved far more than we can presently comprehend. Or, if we are all literally annihilated all in one day in the year 2280 as Rashad Khalifa believed, we’ll certainly re-evolve again when the Heavens and the Earth are recreated.

The Qur’an says:

“Have they not seen how God initiates the creation, then repeats it? This is easy for God to do. Say: “Roam the Earth and find out the origin of life.” For God will thus initiate the creation in the Hereafter. God is Omnipotent.” – The Qur’an 29:19-20, Rashad Khalifa; “Do they not see how God initiates creation then repeats it? Indeed this is easy for God. Say; travel throughout the land, then observe how creation starts. God thus initiates the initiation of the Hereafter. Indeed God is All Powerful over all things.” – The Qur’an 29:19-20, ‘Ali Fazeli’s literal translation.

The scientists who have roamed the Earth – like Darwin, who actually traveled the Earth to study the origin of life – have found out that life has evolved over eons. Creation does not solely mean the creation of life, but also of the Heavens and the Earth, but these verses do make it abundantly clear that the method of creation which God used this time is the same that God will use again in the Hereafter; there will be a new Big Bang, a new Earth will form in orbit around a Sun, and life will evolve into being just as it did this time. But it is likely that the course of evolution will be different, enough so that we will possess new bodies that we presently cannot comprehend. Evolution is part of God’s System, As-Sunat Allah, which The Qur’an says will never change, (6:34; 15:4,76; 17:77; 33:38,62; 35:43; 40:85; 48:23).

The Meaning of Evolution

I must explain what evolution is. First I’ll start with some history of the words “evolution” and “evolve”:

evolve (v.) Look up evolve at Dictionary.com1640s, “to unfold, open out, expand,” from L. evolvere “to unroll,” especially of books; figuratively “to make clear, disclose; to produce, develop,” from ex- “out” (see ex-) + volvere “to roll” (see vulva). Meaning “to develop by natural processes to a higher state” is from 1832. Related: Evolved; evolving.” – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=evolve&allowed_in_frame=0

evolution (n.) Look up evolution at Dictionary.com1620s, “an opening of what was rolled up,” from L. evolutionem (nom. evolutio) “unrolling (of a book),” noun of action from evolvere (see evolve). Used in various senses in medicine, mathematics, and general use, including “growth to maturity and development of an individual living thing” (1660s). Modern use in biology, of species, first attested 1832 by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell.
Charles Darwin used the word only once, in the closing paragraph of “The Origin of Species” (1859), and preferred descent with modification, in part because evolution already had been used in the 18c. homunculus theory of embryological development (first proposed under this name by Bonnet, 1762), in part because it carried a sense of “progress” not found in Darwin’s idea. But Victorian belief in progress prevailed (along with brevity), and Herbert Spencer and other biologists popularized evolution.” – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=evolution&searchmode=none.

Evolution is a process in which life changes subtly over large periods of time, with small changes eventually adding up to larger changes. Those small changes may be natural adaptations that result from the process of natural selection, or they may be genetic mutations which as far as scientists know are random and not always beneficial. Natural selection occurs when lifeforms with certain traits, for natural reasons, do not pass those traits on to their offspring. The superior traits that make life easier, generally, are the ones which get passed on. In animal species for example, a weaker and slower elk is more easily caught by predators. It gets caught and eaten, and thus does not live to pass on it’s genes including the ones that made it weaker and slower; or, a gorilla fails to impress the females with his strength because a stronger male over powers him, and thus the stronger male passes on his trait of greater strength to his offspring. Over long time periods, this sort of phenomena results in certain traits being weeded out of the gene pools of the lifeforms. It does not always happen in those exact ways that I described, but that’s pretty much how natural selection works. This process of course describes how adaptations, those subtle changes in lifeforms, occur. Also, if genetic mutations occur that do happen to be beneficial to a lifeform, then those mutations might not be weeded out by natural selection, and thus may affect the evolution of the lifeform.

Evolution is a gradual, subtle and ongoing process. It does not happen instantly. It can take thousands, or hundreds of thousands of years, for it to become noticeable – evolution is a continuing process, from one generation to the next, but the changes resulting from natural selection take a long time to really start to add up to significant and drastic differences; about 150,000 years ago, humans were still in the Cromagnon stage of their evolutionary path. But modern humans are not really so different from their Cromagnon ancestors, except that their technology is far more advanced than Cromagnon technology; in pretty much all respects, they were people just like modern humans are, with language, large brains, and extreme capacity for creativity and adaptation, (and a great sense of style! I think they really had the fur coats figured out). Here is a reconstruction of a Cromagnon man, (looks pretty human, as far as I can tell):

“An introduction to evolution

The explanation Biological evolution is not simply a matter of change over time. Lots of things change over time: trees lose their leaves, mountain ranges rise and erode, but they aren’t examples of biological evolution because they don’t involve descent through genetic inheritance.The definition Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations). Evolution helps us to understand the history of life.

The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother.

Through the process of descent with modification, the common ancestor of life on Earth gave rise to the fantastic diversity that we see documented in the fossil record and around us today. Evolution means that we’re all distant cousins: humans and oak trees, hummingbirds and whales.” – http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evo_02

History of Evolution Theory

Many Christians claim that because evolution is an explanation for the origin of life other than God, that it must be false and that it is against God’s teachings. But I’m not a Christian, I am a Muslim. Similarly, atheists consider evolution to be evidence that God did not create life, and they also believe that Darwin, one of the originators of the theory of evolution, was an atheist himself. I do not agree with any of these opinions.

Darwin was never truly an atheist:

“Darwin continued to play a leading part in the parish work of the local church,[13] but from around 1849 would go for a walk on Sundays while his family attended church.[14] Though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a god, and that generally “an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”[7] He went as far as saying that “Science has nothing to do with Christ, except insofar as the habit of scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For myself, I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.” ” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Charles_Darwin

The Qur’an says  to go and observe nature, and that in nature, in the Heavens and the Earth, there are signs for those who possess knowledge, (3:190; 30:22). And, as quoted above in 29:19-20, The Qur’an says to go and look throughout the land for the origin of life. That is what Darwin did when he travelled for five years on the H.M.S. Beagle, ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Voyage_of_the_Beagle)

Do Humans At Least Have any Clues of How They Will Evolve?

According to scientists today, humans are still evolving and will continue to evolve:

“In a study published a year ago Henry C. Harpending of the University of Utah, John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and their colleagues analyzed data from the international haplotype map of the human genome [see “Traces of a Distant Past,” by Gary Stix; Scientific American, July 2008]. They focused on genetic markers in 270 people from four groups: Han Chinese, Japanese, Yoruba and northern Europeans. They found that at least 7 percent of human genes underwent evolution as recently as 5,000 years ago. Much of the change involved adaptations to particular environments, both natural and human-shaped. For example, few people in China and Africa can digest fresh milk into adulthood, whereas almost everyone in Sweden and Denmark can. This ability presumably arose as an adaptation to dairy farming. 

Another study by Pardis C. Sabeti of Harvard University and her colleagues used huge data sets of genetic variation to look for signs of natural selection across the human genome. More than 300 regions on the genome showed evidence of recent changes that improved people’s chance of surviving and reproducing. Examples included resistance to one of Africa’s great scourges, the virus causing Lassa fever; partial resistance to other diseases, such as malaria, among some African populations; changes in skin pigmentation and development of hair follicles among Asians; and the evolution of lighter skin and blue eyes in northern Europe.

Harpending and Hawks’s team estimated that over the past 10,000 years humans have evolved as much as 100 times faster than at any other time since the split of the earliest hominid from the ancestors of modern chimpanzees. The team attributed the quickening pace to the variety of environments humans moved into and the changes in living conditions brought about by agriculture and cities. It was not farming per se or the changes in the landscape that conversion of wild habitat to tamed fields brought about but the often lethal combination of poor sanitation, novel diet and emerging diseases (from other humans as well as domesticated animals). Although some researchers have expressed reservations about these estimates, the basic point seems clear: humans are first-class evolvers.” – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-future-of-man

“In short, humanity’s future could take one of several routes, assuming we do not go extinct:

Stasis. We largely stay as we are now, with minor tweaks, mainly as races merge.

Speciation. A new human species evolves on either this planet or another.

Symbiosis with machines. Integration of machines and human brains produces a collective intelligence that may or may not retain the qualities we now recognize as human.

Quo vadis Homo futuris?

Note: This article was originally printed with the title, “What Will Become of Homo Sapiens?” ” – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-future-of-man

Here is one more point that needs to be discussed: The Qur’an does clearly teach, as I’ve shown, that humans will evolve, but it also teaches that on the Last Day, the reproduction will halt, (The Qur’an, 81:4). But if humans cease to reproduce, then how can evolution continue?

What The Qur’an teaches is that on the Last Day, everything will be systematically destroyed – maybe (but not necessarily) all at once, but still inevitably. Then, everything is recreated. The Heavens and the Earth are destroyed, and then recreated. When the Heavens and the Earth have been recreated, the creatures, including the humans, will also be recreated. Every individual human that ever lived, will live again. You will all be reincarnated in new bodies. Evolution will happen all over again for the human race. But things will be different; humans will evolve differently in the new worlds. Vastly differently. And not all humans will be reincarnated into the same world; some will go to Hell, some to Purgatory, some to the Lower Heaven that will merge with the Purgatory, some to Earth, and some to the Higher Heaven, et cetera.

Additionally, even before the reproduction of the human race happens on the Last Day, humans are still evolving and may evolve a very great deal. The reproduction halting is simply part of God’s chosen mechanism for annihilating the present existence of the human race. Of course, you might think, “Well, even if sexual reproduction stops, which is what The Qur’an is talking about, that does not mean that humans might not continue in some other form – we may become mechanized for instance, and use machines to create more of ourselves; we might upload our consciousnesses into machines or something.” But to me it is evident that The Qur’an means all reproduction – mechanically, sexually, or otherwise – will halt. Even though it seems possible that humans will in the future develop technology that may allow them to reproduce or continue their race in other ways, there is no reason to assume this is certain to happen. And The Scriptures do not indicate this will happen; instead, they make it abundantly clear that there is one specific way in which the reproduction occurs; and since that reproduction, natural sexual reproduction, is part of God’s natural system which will not change, it seems obvious that humans will not find any other form of reproduction. But we still will evolve between now and then, as we already are.  And we will evolve again when the Heavens and the Earth are recreated later.

Humanity was produced from black, aged mud like potter’s clay

There is scientific evidence that life on earth ultimately arose from chemical reactions that occurred within a certain type of earthly mud called montmorillonite. This I believe is what The Scriptures really mean when they say that God created humanity from mud. I believe that The Scriptures and Science both confirm that humanity was evolved ultimately, like the rest of Earthly life, from the original lifeforms that arose in montmorrillonite or  a similar Earthly clay millions of years ago.

“Montmorillonite is also known to cause micelles (lipid spheres) to assemble together into vesicles. These are structures that resemble cell membranes on many cells. It can also help nucleotides to assemble into RNA which will end up inside the vesicles. It is speculated that this could have generated highly complex RNA polymers that could reproduce theRNA trapped within the vesicles.[8] This process may have led to the origin of life on Earth.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montmorillonite.

New International Version (©1984)
“The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7.

“He is the One who created you from mud, then predetermined your life span, a life span that is known only to Him. Yet, you continue to doubt.” – The Qur’an 6:2, Rashad Khalifa translation.

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