Religion and Science Can Come together to Reconcile Creation with Evolution
By Dr. Basheer A. Khan
Garden Grove , CA
Creation is a religious doctrine while evolution is a scientific theory. While the basis of religion is faith, the basis of metaphysical science is conjecture and therefore the truth of both is open to endless debate. Faith laced with rationality and conjectures subdued by humility can end these debates to reach the middle ground of truth. If the clergy does not ignore obvious meaning of the revealed text in deference to its traditional interpretations, and if the scientific community does not ignore the limitation of its sensory, analytical and intellectual capabilities to draw far fetched conclusions from their observations to promote some hidden agendas in name of new found knowledge, then there is a good chance to reconcile Creation with Evolution as the two sides of the same coin.
If the religious community had interpreted the Qur’anic verses in relation to the origin of life correctly then it could have prevented some of the perverted supporters of evolution from hijacking this theory to paint religion as a spent force with no relevance to present-day facts. Now that it is hijacked by atheist forces to promote their anti religion antihuman agendas the religious community is finding it more difficult to reconcile with the theory of evolution. Furthermore the religious community has always been skeptical of incorporating scientific explanations into religious beliefs because of the frequent changes which the scientific community makes in their position. Geocentric nature of the universe was a belief of Roman philosophers which found its way into Christianity. Church accepted it to look modern, but when heliocentric nature of the universe was discovered, Christianity was chastised for it. Intention of Muslim clergy to avoid such a dilemma is understandable, but passivity will only result in marginalizing itself and the religion further.
Despite significant differences in the details about creation of man, both the Bible and the Qur’an say: God created Adam from clay and blew from His spirit and created his mate and made them live in Paradise (Genesis Ch 1 V 27, Ch 2 V 7, 15 and Qur’an Ch 38 V 71-72, Ch 7 V 19). The religious doctrine of creation is based upon these verses of scripture. When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree God sent them to a life of toil and discovery on the earth (Genesis Ch. 3 V 23 and Qur’an Ch 7 V 20-25). We as their progeny are now trying to understand this phenomenon of the distant past by digging into our subconscious and unconscious mind.
There is no way for us to know where this paradise was from where Adam and Eve were sent to the life of earth, and how they were transported except through the holy texts and its exegesis. According to this, the Paradise is a place different than our earth. It is much bigger more beautiful and enthralling.
One belief is that Adam and Eve were dropped from the Heaven on to this earth. Which part of the earth they were dropped differs. Some believe that they were dropped on the continent of Africa . From Africa their progeny traveled to different parts of the world. During this migration they acquired different physical feature in the process of adaptation to different climatic conditions which are now apparent in the different races inhabiting the world. Some say that they were dropped in Kashmir . The popular belief amongst Muslims is that Adam and Eve after their descent met at Jable Rahmah (Mount of Mercy) in the valley of Arafa . Together they repented for the sin of eating from the forbidden tree. Millions of Muslims gather every year at this place during Hajj pilgrimage to commemorate this and to seek forgiveness for their own sins.
These are some of the beliefs with regard to the appearance of man on earth. But some of the verses in Qur’an and Bible give some hints that points to a different way in which man made his appearance on this earth.
In verse 30 of chapter 21 Allah says: He has created every living thing with water. If this is so then man being a living thing is also is created with water. But this is in contradiction with the verse in which Allah says: He began the creation of man with clay (V 8 of Ch 32). Clearly and undoubtedly Qur’an is the word of Allah and is therefore free from all contradictions (V 82 of Ch 4). If we see any contradiction in the two verses about the origin of man it is because of our wrong interpretation and understanding of these verses.
There is no way to square this contradiction other than to accept that the prototype of man, Adam, was made with clay as mentioned in verse 71 of Ch 38 in what the Islamic theologians describe as Aa-lam e Misal , the Ethereal Universe. (To learn more about Aa-lam e Misal one should read the marvelous treatise about it in Hujjathul lahul Baligha by the scholar of Islamic renaissance in Twelfth Century Hijra, Shah Waliullah Muhaddis Dehelvi RA.) But when Adam was sent down to earth for his indiscretion in heeding to the command of Allah, and eating from the forbidden tree, he was recreated on the earth with water as mentioned in the verse 30 of Ch 21.
Qur’an is a book of inspiration which gives some hints about a subject and allows mankind to ponder on it further and arrive at its own conclusions using the sensory, intellectual and analytical capabilities gifted to him. We may err in our conclusions but we will surely correct our mistakes as we realize them and this is a more respectful way of leading men to truth than to force it on them through dogmas. Having told that all living beings were created with water, Qur’an motivated mankind to travel on the earth to find out how Allah had originated His creations (Ch. 29 V 20).
When the religious community failed in giving an intellectually satisfactory explanation to the origin of life on earth in light of these verses, Allah swt used Darwin and sent him to the Galapagos Islands to observe various species inhabiting there and propound his theory of evolution. According to this theory life started with the unicellular organism formed by development of a membrane around a microscopic drop of water which later evolved into complex and multi cellular structures to protect and propagate itself. Passing through various stations in the hierarchy of animal kingdom it reached the state of man. Bible mentions about the creation of vegetation and animals before creation of man to substantiate this (Genesis Ch 1 V 24-27).
The point which was missed or rather ignored in this whole theory of evolution was that long before Darwin postulated his theory, the religious scriptures had already mentioned about the origin of life from water. This was deliberately done to keep the religion out of the public square in the new found set up of secular society. Much worse, this theory was used to remove God from the consciousness of man. They did this by attributing the whole process of evolution from the formation of unicellular organism to its gradual evolution into human being through a process of natural selection as a self propelled mechanism dictated by genes without any intellect and architect named God behind it. In doing this the disingenuous scientists evaded and ignored the basic question in process of scientific enquiry which is: who designed and made these genes which motivate the cells, the tissues, the organs and the organism to reach the ultimate destiny in form of man other than God. Those who do not leave anything to hope and chance in the most insignificant affairs related to their personal lives hope that we will believe that the jewel of all creations, Man, was evolved through an evolutionary process by “Chance” and not by the intelligent design of The Omniscient and Omnipotent God.
To prove that man is not the ultimate in the scheme of evolutionary process designed by God, these scientists say that man is only another animal with some special features developed by him in the process of natural selection to fulfill its need. By justifying the instincts of the baser self in man and by suppressing his spiritual and moral growth by challenging the role of religion and creating doubts about it, the social scientists have sealed the fate of man to be an animal.
Darwin was a religious man, but those who followed him hijacked his theory and developed other corollaries like the struggle of existence, survival of the fittest, and the dialectical process in advancement of human civilization. The psyche developed by propagation of these corollaries through our educational system has stripped man of his compassionate and human nature and opened up doors of never ending competition and strife. This process of degeneration of mankind was hastened further by distortion of religion by the presumed friends and its denigration by professed foes.
Those who propounded these corollaries were misled to believe that their success in the world was because of their intellectual superiority and material strength which had nothing to do with any moral imperative. But Thomas Jefferson understood the reality better when he said: when I consider God is just, I shudder for my country.
If we concede that this evolutionary process took place in various parts of the world simultaneously, it is easier for us to rationalize the differences in racial and intellectual make up of mankind more easily than by any other theory. This will also remove the misconception which few harbor to justify incest on the ground that the propagation of mankind in the earlier part of history was through incest.
True religion and perfect science are both inspirational gifts from God. Perfect science provides us the means of comfort to our physical existence. True religion on the other hand ensures spiritual enlightenment and broadens the horizon of mind to explore things without being lost in the exploratory process or products. If science is a journey in search of truth to make life better in the light of knowledge and discoveries, then religion is a compass to set the correct direction for this journey. By ignoring the relevance and importance of the journey of science and the inroads it has made in the various aspects of our life, the religious compass will lose its own relevance; and by ignoring the compass of religion in its journey, science will go wayward and pit not just Creation against Evolution, but everything against every other thing and deviate mankind from a purposeful and happy existence.
It is high time that the religious scholars shun their unjustifiable preference to those interpretations of holy text which disregard its obvious meaning to restrict the eternal value of its message under their own limited understanding of it. Instead they should try to understand the holy texts afresh both in letter and in spirit in accordance with the contemporary consciousness to establish the relevance of religion as a dynamic force to guide human beings for eternity. Otherwise there is a concerted attempt to remove religion from people’s life and make them lead the life of animals devoid of God consciousness and morality. If the religious people do not acknowledge good science and help the scientists in perfecting it in light of the divine guidance, then the bad scientists will rule over the realm of science to discredit religion and destroy humanity.