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Does the Qur'an Support Evolution?
Is evolution in stark contradiction to the teachings of the Qu'ran and thereafter Islam?
A very important question. The answer of which dictating whether or not one can be both a muslim and accept modern day science as we know it.
After all, it is exactly progress in science & education that has threatened the prominent religions of today and resulted in dwindling numbers of almost every religious faction. See: 6 Reasons Religion is Dying for more information.
Humans Made From Clay
It is undeniable that the Qu'ran makes many references to the idea that Allah made humans out of clay:
"I am going to create a human being out of clay." - (Qur'an, 38:71-72)
What this actually means is quite difficult to determine - surely we cannot take this literally and assume that a large portion of human matter is clay.
It should be noted that even if the Qu'ran stated that humans are 100% made out of clay, there is still room for the belief that these clay humans evolved from another organism.
That said, if that is indeed what the Qu'ran teaches it would have to be concluded that it has no place alongside modern day science.
Just a Metaphor
Perhaps being made from clay is a metaphor, for our softness and vulnerability, or even our malleability? You can get as poetic as you like with this view and conclude what you will, but if it is merely symbolism for inner human traits it has no bearing on the Qu'ran's teaching of science.
Denying every mistake in the Qu'ran on the grounds of it being poetry could be seen as weak by both sides of the argument, however.
1. Scientific Explanation - Representation
- Within the average human body, there are more than 26 elements
- One argument is that when the Qu'ran says humans were made out of clay, it means that humans are made from the same elements that are found in clay.
Science Says: this is a very weak argument, since although there are many types of clay, there are none that contain all 26 elements found in the human body. So, even if you break down clay into its different component elements you wouldn't have enough to assemble them into a human. In short, clay fails to be a representation of what humans are made of.
Logic Says: It would be more correct to say that "clay is made out of humans" since all the elements that make up clay (silicon, oxygen, hydrogen, iron, calcium) are found in the human body - of course, this would not be chronologically correct in respect to how the first clay was formed.
2. Scientific Explanation - Clay in Abiogenesis
- Strong evidence has been found for the idea that a particular type of clay: montmorillonite, played a key part in the formation of life from inorganic compounds.
- The researchers found that the clay caused a 100-fold acceleration in vesicle (cell-like sacs) formation as well as provide an excellent environment for RNA formation.
- Therefore, the Qu'ran has stated something profoundly true thousands of years before we realised the same thing in the 21st Century.
Logic Says: the Qu'ran specifically states that humans consist of clay (come from it) and so it is not enough to now find out that clay helped cells form together - life didn't come from clay, nor was it made made from clay but instead may have been helped by it during the earliest cells' formation.
Evolution and Adam & Eve
Another big problem with the Qu'ran and evolution is the Qu'ran's expressed dissent from the Garden of Eden:
"Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time." - (002:036)
This flies directly into the face of modern day science because evidence shows humans evolved from early hominids on earth and were never originally in any heavenly garden.
Quite importantly, evidence also suggests that humans evolved in a group and not through one male and one female.
This debate has great significance in that if only two humans evolved at first and mated to produce all others there would have been almost no genetic variation in the offspring and future generations of humans would more than likely have died out very quickly.
In order for a species to survive, it is observed, vast amounts of genetic variation is necessary (to fend from disease and other selective pressures).
Notable Other Mentions
Below are a list of other statements the Qu'ran makes that contradict modern day science when applied to biology and zoology. The list is not exhaustive:
- Sperm comes from between the spine and ribs:
'He is created from a drop emitted- Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs' (Qur'an 86:6-7)
- Only Allah can know what sex a baby will be:
"Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs." (Qur'an 31:34)
- Bees Eat Fruit
"And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations;Then to eat of all the fruits (of the earth)" (Qur'an 16:68-69)
It is clear that just like in the Bible, the Qu'ran features many statements made that have now been refuted.
The answer to the question "is Islam compatible with evolution" then, just like in the case of Christianity, is no.
This is not to say that many people will not counterclaim that they are both a "muslim and a believer in evolution" but this will almost certainly be due to the fact that they identify themselves with the culture.
I urge readers to remember that being raised a muslim or ingraining yourself into a muslim society does not constitute being a muslim - the requirement for that being believing in what the Qu'ran says without disregarding parts that you dislike.
Thank you for your time and patience,
© 2013 DK