The Theory of Evolution has become the de facto standard used in the West, and indeed beyond, to explain the existence of creation and life, it is described as rational and scientific. In stark contrast, other arguments that explain the existence of life are considered to be irrational, backward and steeped in ignorance borne out of belief in religion. In other words, there are essentially two clear camps: the ‘scientific’ and progressive camp which espouses the virtues of the Theory, and the apparently ‘unscientific’ contingent which clings to outmoded explanations such as the existence of a Creator.
Richard Dawkins, an emeritus fellow of Oxford University has been an advocate of teaching the Darwinist theory of evolution as scientific fact in schools to explain the origin of life. The implications of evolution being taught as fact by teachers, while denying theories that include the existence of a Creator, have serious consequences for Muslims in Britain. It is an attempt to confuse the minds of young people about their aqeedah for which Allah سبحانه وتعالى commands decisiveness, especially when it is often described using complex and convoluted language.
It is therefore imperative that Muslims understand the basis of this theory and are clear on its flaws in explaining the origin of life- should they confront it in their day to day activities.
What is the Theory of Evolution?
Darwinist theory of evolution is described as the process of change that organisms undergo in response to their environment over a period of time, resulting in the formation of new and completely different species altogether. It suggests that life on earth began from a single celled organism that evolved into a multicellular organism, then into more complex organisms through a process of spontaneous regeneration to produce the vast variety of species found on earth today. Therefore all life on Earth shares a common ancestor and the apes and humans also have a common ancestor from which they both originated. According to this theory, evolution is still happening today.
The ideas that underpin the theory of evolution include ‘Natural Selection’, ‘Variation’ and ‘Gene mutation’ according to Darwin’s explanations.
Inherited & Environmental Variations:
Variations are the slight differences in features we see between individuals within a species. These variations can be a result of the environment (e.g. scars, tanned skin) or be inherited (e.g. different eye colour, hair colour in humans). Inherited variations are as a result of different combinations of genes from the parents being passed onto offspring and future generations.
Scientists have been known to incorrectly use the idea of variation within species to support the notion of evolution of one species to another species altogether. For example, on Darwin’s trip around the world on the HMS Beagle, he visited the Galapagos Islands and studied the variety of finches. In Darwin’s book, ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ (1839), he writes:
“One might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends”.
A discussion took place between Darwin and other Naturalists in his time as to whether the finches were of the same species with variations they inherited or whether they evolved into completely different species. Scientists in support of Darwinist theory regard the finches as evolving into different species through Natural Selection.
Natural Selection is described by Darwinist scientists as a process by which evolution happens. It is built on the idea of survival of the fittest. Due to genetic variations, some animals have features that make them better suited for their environments (eg. camouflage). Nature ‘prefers’ animals that are better suited for their environment, as they will be able to survive and reproduce in order to pass on the same characteristics to their offspring, while those less ‘fit’ for their environment will die earlier and so become less common. One example is the peppered moth:
1. When newly industrialised parts of Britain became polluted in the nineteenth century, smoke killed lichens growing on trees and blackened their bark.
2. Pale coloured moths, which had been well camouflaged before when they rested on tree trunks, became very conspicuous and were eaten by birds. Rare dark moths, which had been conspicuous before, were now well camouflaged in the black background.
3. As birds switched from eating mainly dark moths to mainly pale moths, the most common moth colour changed from pale to dark.
The above gives a plausible explanation of how the environment can influence the genetic make-up of a species and illustrates how natural selection caused a change in the British moth population. This example is often cited as a case of evolution in action, but in reality this is only a very superficial change in wing colour – both types of moth are part of the same species and both existed before the industrial revolution.
Natural selection can alter the features of a species only very little, because it simply picks and chooses between the normal genetic variations that are found within the population anyway. These natural variations are not enough to produce evolution on a large scale. In order to account for the major changes needed for the current theory of evolution to stand, it requires that several mutations occur and accumulate in the DNA over generations, and only then will it produce new characteristics in the organism, so as to change it into a different species. However relying on gene mutations as a basis for evolution is problematic.
Mutation is the process of random genetic change. All cells within an organism carry hereditary material in the form of genes. As the body grows, new cells are created with identical genetic material. Sometimes the DNA makes mistakes in replicating the genetic code. This mistake when replicating genes is called a genetic mutation. Approximately 5% of the DNA contains the hereditary material called genes (coding region) and 95% are known as the non-coding regions. This means, in order to impact the organisms’ physical characteristics, mutations during mitosis would need to happen on the genes (5% of DNA) for which the odds are pretty slim. Factors that can affect the rate of genetic mutations are mainly exposure to radiation and dangerous chemicals.
Modern Darwinist theory lays the basis of evolutionary change by genetic mutations. The problem here is that, an overwhelming majority of gene mutations are fatal to the organism resulting in deformed, sick and weakened organisms. Recent studies confirm that 99.99% of genetic mutations kill living cells. In this day and age there are increased sources of mutation in our environment, such as radiation. So, why do we not see major evolutionary changes happening all around us? We can witness the effects of mutations in humans following radiation poisoning at Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl – that is, a litany of death, disability and illness.
Even if hypothetically, such gene mutations resulted in enhancement of physical characteristics in organisms, the mutations must take place in the sex cells in order to be passed onto offspring, further reducing the chances of them being a sustained source of evolution. And an even more fundamental question to ask is where did the first single celled organism that replicated, mutated and evolved into many multicellular organisms come from in the first place?
Flawed Evidence to back Evolution
1) Comparison of DNA
Speciation is the process by which a single ancestral species splits into two or more different species. For example, Darwinist theory states that humans and apes have a common ancestor, just as we and our cousins share a common grandmother. Some of our ancestors evolved to become apes and the rest evolved into hominids (ape-human hybrid), Neanderthals and then to Homo sapiens (humans). Scientists claim if we go back far enough we can trace all life on Earth back to one common ancestor, whose offspring split off and evolved into all the diversity of life we see today.
The proof they use that humans and apes, and indeed that all life on Earth, is related is the similarities between DNA of different species. By comparing DNA, and linking speciation events in time, Darwinists attempt to work out where different species fit in the evolutionary ‘family tree’. For example, 98% of human DNA is the same as that of a chimpanzee, but only 85% is the same as that of a mouse. Therefore it’s assumed that, in the family tree, humans split off from chimpanzees later than they did other mammals (like mice), and so we are more closely related to chimpanzees.
DNA matching also confirms that humans share 60% of our DNA with fruit flies and 50% with bananas. Ultimately all life on Earth does share similar characteristics and our DNA all have the same structure and utilises the same four letters in the genetic code. Scientists have taken this to mean that all life has to be related and that we all come from a single common ancestor. However this is just a hypothesis. We could equally claim that this is evidence that all life originated from the same source, i.e. it had the same Designer or Creator.
2) Fossil Records
Darwinists often advocate the fossil record as being a major evidence for evolution, however the truth is they do not support the notion that species evolved into other species. In fact, scientists know there are huge gaps in fossil records and new species have been found to appear without an in-between link to a different species. Case & Stiers comment:
“Though the fossil record makes an enormously important contribution to evolutionary theory, this source of data poses some questions that proved to be a source of embarrassment to evolutionary theorists”.
If evolution is a continual process, we should be able to see several intermediate forms all around us and within the fossil record. On the contrary, the features within species are sharply defined and easy to classify. Darwin failed to provide a plausible explanation:
“Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all of nature in confusion, instead of the species as we see them, well defined?” (Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859).
In an attempt to solve this dilemma, in recent times scientists have proposed a slightly different model of evolution called “punctuated equilibrium”. It rejects the Darwinist idea of a cumulative, step-by-step evolution and holds that evolution took place instead in big, discontinuous “jumps”. Sadly for the proponents, Niles Eldredge and Stephen Gould (American palaeontologists), their own theory is bankrupt – since for one thing, it conflicts with the understanding that genes cannot undergo radical mutations.
Utilising the evidence of fossils as a proof for evolution is even more problematic. Closer examination of the fossil record actually suggests evidence for the opposite argument – creation. For example, one of the oldest strata of the earth in which fossils of living creatures have been found is that of the Cambrian, which has an estimated age of 500-550 million years. The living creatures found in this period seemed to emerge all of a sudden in the fossil record and were already complex invertebrates such as snails, earthworms and jellyfish– and there appeared to be no ancestors. This wide mosaic of living organisms, made up of such a great number of complex creatures, emerged so suddenly that this miraculous event is referred to as the “Cambrian Explosion” in geological literature. As Richard Dawkins himself comments:
“The Cambrian strata of rocks, vintage about 600 million years, are the oldest ones in which we find most of the major invertebrate groups. And we find many of them already in an advanced state of evolution, the very first time they appear. It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history. Needless to say, this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists.”
The Question of the Origin of Life:
The theory of evolution suggests that life started as an accident through a process known as spontaneous generation. In other words, it was never the objective to create life – it just happened. So a collection of organic compounds somehow gained the attribute of life that cannot be explained by scientists. In fact Fred Hoyle, a well-known English mathematician and astronomer, and someone who believes in evolution, made the analogy that the chances of the first cell forming spontaneously were comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials present.
On the question of the origin of life scientists like Louis Pasteur and Francesco Ready advocated that life could only come from a previous life. If that were the case, then how did the first cell receive its life?
According to Professor of Applied Mathematics and astronomy from University College (Cardiff, Wales), Chandra Wickramasinghe:
“The likelihood of the spontaneous formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it… It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.”
This confirms that the probability of life emerging by itself is virtually non-existent. Therefore, all inanimate objects including DNA depend on something to give them their life giving properties. That is the one who created life in all its complexities in the first place – Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
Evolution with all its flaws has been sold to people as a fact, entering the science curriculum from an early age. This approach has resulted in the indoctrination of millions with false ideas. Muslims must have a firm grasp of what this theory is and understanding of which aspects are well-established, such as natural selection and variation, which are not in contradiction with Islam and the existence of a Creator. But we must also be armed with the ideas to refute the heavily-flawed aspects of evolution that attempt to explain the origins of life, and to expose the agenda to strip us of the fundamental pillars that form our belief and convictions.
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ
“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, these are indeed signs for men of understanding” [Al-Imran, 3:190]