What is Darwin’s theory and evolution?
Darwin narrates in his book the ‘On the Origin of Species’ that he voyaged on the HMS Beagle to various places across the globe including the Galapagos Islands.
On this island, among several observations, Darwin states that he watched a group of Finches pecking away. These finches had different sized beaks which enabled some to peck and reach inside particular sized holes which others weren’t able to reach (Darwin 1859).
This helped to trigger Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin argued that in order to survive and adapt to their environments, animals evolved over time.
Since then, many scientists have not only agreed with Darwin’s theory but have expanded upon it with ideas such as Herbert Spencer who coined the phrase, “the survival of the fittest” and Alfred Russell Wallace who co-authored the notion of “natural selection” (Darwin 1859).
Hence, especially with the emergence of modern genetics and the “Modern Synthesis” the topic of evolution itself is now a very broad and in-depth field. Many evolutionists now believe that life not only evolved, but also appeared in the beginning by random chance.
What is the Islamic perspective on Darwin’s theory and evolution?
In order to understand the Islamic perspective on Darwin and the evolutionist theory, we first need to understand what Islam is.
What is Islam?
Islam means to believe and submit to One God alone and recognise the fact that all the prophets including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (PBUT), were all sent by this same God to deliver the same message.
This message is to accept the fact that God was always there from the beginning and will always be there; and that He is the Creator of everything including us.
What is the Islamic criticism of Darwin’s theory and evolution?
Some evolutionists argue that there is no reason to believe why God couldn’t have made living beings which evolved from one to another; hence, why do Muslims object to the evolution theory?
However, there is one important point which is often ignored – the essential question is not whether living beings appeared individually or through evolving from each other (Yahya 1999)? The essential question is this:
Did all living beings come into existence by chance and as result of natural events or were they consciously created by a Creator (God)?
The theory of evolution, as known; claims that inorganic chemical compounds came together by chance and as a result of randomly occurring natural phenomena.
It was these inorganic compounds which eventually formed the first building blocks of life and ultimately life.
In other words, the predominant theory of evolution argues that everything within the universe appeared by itself, and evolved and developed over time through inorganic matter and chance.
This idea removes the powers from the Creator (God) and instead accepts and gives these creative powers to time, inorganic matter and chance – this goes against the religion of God and Islam (Yahya 1999).
So how do Muslims deny Darwin’s theory and evolution in regards to chance, inorganic matter and time?
There are various arguments, and we have used some analogies in our ‘How do we know God exists?’ page. However, we’ve decide to focus on just four key points:
- Where did God come from?
- How did the universe appear?
- How did life first appear on earth?
- How did complex organisms, molecular structures and biological systems first appear on Earth?
Where did God come from?
How did we learn about our Creator? Why did people begin to worship God when this has nothing to do with the ‘survival of the fittest’ notion?
Evolutionist will argue that humans created the idea of a ‘God’.
However, in Islam, this does not explain the fact that all the prophets including Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad (PBUT) all worshipped the same God and called their people to worship Him too.
Furthermore, many of the prophets performed various miracles such as the splitting of the sea by Moses, the Virgin Birth of Jesus by Mary and the feeding of a large army from a few dates by the prophet Muhammad (PBUT).
These are facts, and it is not just the religious texts which confirm these but also many written historical accounts.
Muslims firmly believe in all the prophets and their miracles – these were a part of the reason why so many people believed in their prophets and worshipped God.
Evolutionists will often try to ignore, brush-aside and some may even unfortunately ridicule these events, but these are not made-up fictional stories.
These events actually occurred – these prophets (PBUT) actually existed and so did their miracles, books and messages.
That is a fact.
Why did all the prophets worship the same God alone and call everyone else to worship Him too? Who sent the prophets (PBUT) to remind us about our Creator? How did they perform such miracles which were so astounding that we still know of them today?
These questions remain unanswered.
How did the universe appear?
Did the universe appear by itself?
In his book, titled “The Grand Design”, Steven Hawking (2010, cited in Lennox 2010) famously claimed that:
“…because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”
Hence, according to Hawking, it is the laws of physics and not the will of God, which provide the real explanation as to how the universe and life first appeared on Earth.
Yet the universe we live in is indescribably vast.
We are 1 planet in our solar system. Our solar system is part of a galaxy known as the Milky Way which contains as many as 100,000,000 planets.
There are between 100,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 stars in an average galaxy. The known universe is made up of 50,000,000,000 galaxies – this is an estimate of the known universe – there might be more.
Is it really possible that all of this appeared by itself? Is it possible for something to appear from nothing? What are the chances of this?
As Dr John Lennox (2010), Professor in Mathematics at Oxford University explains; “
“Physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions.”
Lennox (2010) explains that Hawking has confused the laws of physics with agency, and uses the example of Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics when explaining the jet engine:
“Professor Stephen Hawking believes the laws of physics were behind the creation of the universe, not God. That is a confusion of category. The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but someone had to build the thing, put in the fuel and start it up. The jet could not have been created without the laws of physics on their own – but the task of development and creation needed the genius of Whittle as its agent.”
In other words, the laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works but it could not have made the jet engine itself. Lennox (2010) goes onto state that:
“Similarly, the laws of physics could never have actually built the universe. Some agency must have been involved. Hawking’s argument appears to me even more illogical when he says the existence of gravity means the creation of the universe was inevitable. But how did gravity exist in the first place? Who put it there? And what was the creative force behind its birth?”
To sum up; according to the laws of science, something cannot appear from nothing… there had to be a Creator that started the universe.
Was the universe always there?
Based on the above argument, some evolutionists argue that the universe may have always existed and was never formed.
Yet this is also illogical and has been rejected on scientific grounds even though there are some scientists who propose theories to try and dispute otherwise.
The laws of thermodynamics concerning energy and the laws of physics in regards to cause and effect clearly explain that the universe must have had a beginning.
In regards to energy, the universe is in continuous movement and expanding, and in regards to effect, we can witness hundreds and billions of effects such as the birth and death of the planets, stars and solar systems.
This means there must have been a cause for each of these – something which started all of this; and hence there was a beginning and there is an almost certain probability that there will be an end too.
So, what are the chances of such a huge and complicated universe consisting of 50,000,000,000 galaxies appearing all by itself? The chances are so minute and small that it’s not even worth comprehending.
How did life first appear on earth?
An organism broadly speaking is a living thing such as an animal, plant or human being which are all composed of living cells.
Evolutionists argue that inanimate (non-living) matter must have produced one living cell by coincidence and chance. This theory is described as ‘spontaneous generation’ which implies that non-living materials came together to form a living organism which then multiplied.
However, there has been no evidence to factually prove this theory correct.
On the contrary, this theory has been strongly rejected by modern biologists and great evolutionists such as the Russian biologist Alexander Oparin, dubbed the Darwin of the 20th century, and the American chemist Stanley Miller, who both experimented to try and prove that a living cell could originate by coincidence and chance, but failed (Yahya 1999).
They admitted their failure; Oparin in “Origin of Life” and Stanley Miller in “Molecular Evolution of life.” Jeffery Bada in his book “Earth” (cited in Yahya 1999) states in regards to this theory that:
“We still face the biggest unsolved problem that we had when we entered the twentieth century: how did life originate on earth?”
The conditions required for the formation of just one cell are too great in quantity to be explained by accident or coincidence because the DNA molecule is so complex.
Richard Dawkins (2006 p.138), in his book ‘The God Delusion’, attempts to challenge this notion as well, but acknowledges that:
“…the spontaneous arising of something equivalent to DNA, really was a quite staggeringly improbable event.”
Yet, it is estimated that an organism such as an adult human could be made of between 10-100 trillions living cells.
This is just one organism; how many organisms are there on Earth and how many living cells does the entire Earth itself contain?
Furthermore, these living cells are extremely intricately well organised, structured and linked together to create complete animals, plants and birds.
Science is struggling to factually prove how just one living cell appeared on the Earth.
So what are the chances of all of these living cells appearing by chance, and then coming together to form such complicated structures such as a human being? This leads onto our final point.
How did complex organisms, molecular structures and biological systems first appear on Earth?
An organism broadly speaking is a living thing such as an animal, plant or human which are all composed of living cells.
These organisms are composed of complex molecular structures such as proteins, and many organisms contain biological systems such as a respiratory system or digestive system which enables them to breathe and process food.
Darwin (1859 pp.171-172) himself states in his books that there are organs which are of “extreme perfection and complication.”
Although Darwin (1859 pp.171-172) goes onto argue that such processes developed through natural selection, when describing the eye, he states:
“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”
Hence, Darwin (1859) himself momentarily confesses that for a complex organ such as an eye to have developed by itself is “absurd in the highest degree.”
No scientific factual explanation has been put forward that even begins to explain how something like the human eye could have been produced by time, chance, natural selection and mutation.
Yet this is just one eye.
A baby needs a number of very complex interdependent systems to live and survive.
These systems include the nervous, digestive, excretory, circulatory, skeletal, muscular and immune system; and for a baby to survive and live, each system requires all the other systems to be functioning.
Therefore all these systems must be in operation at the same time and could not have evolved slowly over millions of years.
And what are the chances of an intricate male reproductive system coming about by time, chance and random mutation? It would need to be fully functional along the entire evolutionary timeline so that reproduction could continue.
And remember; this highly unlikely progression would be pointless unless the female reproductive system had also randomly evolved in perfect sync to compliment the developing male system so that they both worked in harmony over the millions of years of evolutionary refinement!
This logic applies to all the other species on earth as well.
There is no evidence anywhere of the evolution of such systems. More than that, not even any hypothetical process can be thought of to explain how something like the brain and the digestive system could have evolved bit by bit over time!
It is not surprising that evolutionists such as Sir Fred Hoyle (1981 p.105) concede this when they say:
“The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way (by time and chance) is comparable with the chance that ‘a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”
Richard Dawkins (2006 p.138), in his book ‘The God Delusion’, despite attempting to challenge this notion as well, acknowledges that:
“…the odds of life originating spontaneously on a planet were a billion to one against…”
According to Dawkins, the chance of life spontaneously occurring on a planet is a billion to one…but this only refers to the basic “origin of life.”
So what are the chances of more complex organisms, molecular structures and biological systems appearing on Earth by themselves?
Do Muslims completely refute Darwin’s theory and evolution?
Islam supports science and the various scientific discoveries of Muslim scientists several hundred years ago affirm this; but there is one condition:
Islam will only support science as long as it does not contradict the teachings and statements of our Creator because science is subject to change based on new findings.
Hence, maybe some aspects of evolution did occur on this earth. Maybe some aspects are even occurring as we speak – Allah (God) knows best.
However, Islam rejects ideas such as the theory that humans descended from apes because it contradicts the teachings and statements of God:
“O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him, he created his wife (Eve), and from them both, He created many men and women.” (Quran: 4:1)
Muslims will be “dutiful” to God because we recognise and accept Him as our Maker and Creator and the Maker and Creator of everything around us.
Evolutionists who choose to accept the theory that everything formed with time, and through inorganic matter and chance, reject the Creator – despite the fact that the signs point towards the existence of one.
God refers to this:
“We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes clear to them that this (the Quran) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?” (Quran 41:53)
Why does God shows us these clear signs? It is to guide us towards recognising the truth of Him as the Creator of everything around us. Hence, God states:
“The truth is from your Lord. Then whomsoever chooses, let him believe, and whomsoever chooses, let him disbelieve. Truly, We have prepared for the wrong-doers a Fire whose walls will be surrounding them (i.e. those who disbelieved in God).” (Quran 18:29)
The universe is a vastly complex and extraordinary place – what are the chances of it appearing by itself?
Yet there are evolutionists who will choose to ignore the signs.
The evolutionist scientist, Pierre Paul Grassé (1977 p.107) concedes this and summarises what the concept of accepting “coincidence” and “chance” means for evolutionists:
“Chance becomes a sort of providence, which, under the cover of atheism, is not named but which is secretly worshipped.”
Hence, evolutionists, despite knowing the fact that numerous signs within an extremely well constructed, organised and structured universe point towards the existence of a Creator, will choose to disbelieve in God and “worship” chance and coincidence in the hope that they are correct.
Muslims choose to acknowledge that some aspects of evolution may be correct. However, anything which contradicts the teachings of God – the Creator are incorrect.
Hence, Muslims ultimately choose to believe in God alone, recognise His signs and accept His messages over the teachings of evolution.
Why? Because when evolutionists argue that we descended from apes and that everything appeared by itself; it is like saying that there was an explosion at a salvage yard, and all the metal pieces flew into the air, and then fell back down into one place and formed a brand new Lamborghini Aventador.
When evolutionists insist that this notion of evolution is true, the universe appeared by chance and that we descended from apes; our response is… surely that’s bananas.
- Darwin, C. (1859) The Origin of Species 6th Edition, Online Literature Library
- Dawkins, R. (2006) The God Delusion, Bantam Press
- Grassé, P.P. (1977) Evolution of Living Organisms, New York, Academic Press.
- Hawking, S. (1995) A Brief History of Time: From Big Bang to Black Holes, Bantam.
- Hoyle, F. (12/11/1981) On Evolution Nature, vol. 294. (Words in italics in the quote are added for clarification.)
- Lennox, J. (03/09/2010) As a scientist I’m certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can’t explain the universe without God – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1308599/Stephen-Hawking-wrong-You-explain-universe-God.html
- Yahya, H. (1999) The Evolution Deceit: The Scientific Collapse of Darwinism and its Ideological Background, Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.