Evolution: Another Viewpoint

Following up on my critique of Muslims not accepting evolution and after finding out that Harun Yahya, one of the opponents of evolutionary theory, is not a scientist, I discovered a lecture by a Saudi geologist (specializing in micropalaeontology) Dr Zaghloul Al-Najjar that he gave at the University of New South Wales Islamic Society. He basically denies macroevolution and humans being related to animals.

Muslims have taken one of two stands regarding this issue. One is to completely reject it, and the other is that this is the result of scientific endeavour and we have to accept it fully. Both stands are completely wrong. In Islam we are taught not to accept theories dogmatically and at the same time, not to reject theories that have some evidence behind them.

The theory says that everything in this Universe was created gradually, created one step after another, which is true. We can find ample evidence that supports gradualism in Creator. This does not negate creation at all, and does not stand in the face in the limitless powers of the creation. So we believe in the gradualism of creation. Things were not created suddenly, but Allah has the power to say “Be” and it “is”.

The second part of the theory says that the simple forms led to more complex forms. This part must be considered more carefully and critically. How can a simple single-cell amoeba understand that in time it will develop into a human being, needing a backbone, and requiring particular dimensions for the skull and limbs, and certain organs to function? No man worth his salt would assume this. This assumption is beyond the scientific process itself. To assume that simple forms evolved to higher forms by themselves without any divine guidance is completely incorrect. It is unscientific. We know from life on Earth that this process is very slow, and neither subject to direct observation nor to direct experimentation. The shortest lifespan of a species is 500,000 years. Who would live for 500,000 years to observe that species A has slowly changed into species B? It is unscientific. It is a theoretical conclusion established on the background belief of whoever is expounding this theory. If you are a believer, you will frame this information in a completely different way from someone who has a disbelieving attitude.

In the area of evolution, Islam has no trouble at all accepting the concept of evolution, with three basic conditions:

  • We cannot believe that the earliest forms of life started spontaneously by the reaction of the sun with mud and water. One of our contemporaries wanted to estimate the probability of making a single protein molecule. Protein is composed of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and sometimes Phospohrous. To simply select these five would take a mass much greater than that of the known universe and an ange several time the age of the universe. Then each protein molecule consists of amino acids and these can be very complex. The probability of assembing the amino acids into useful proteins and to DNA in particular is extremely remote.
  • For creation to take place by itself is impossible. The early beginnings of life must be carefully planned, else they are doomed to failure. This creation by whatever means, is a miracle that is beyond the reaches of science. These simple forms of life can not evolve upwards by themselves, and if evolution did occur as suggested, it must have been encoded into the first cells themselves.
  • Man is not part of this general schema and was created separately and is not linked to the process itself.

This means that in Islam, it is perfectly acceptable to accept one of two theories. One of separate creation of each individual lifeform, or what we might call “evolutionary creation”, carefully planeed and set out, with each lifeform having its own period and stage.

Why can’t he simply accept evolution while maintaining that everything is created by God? Sort of like the pope.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. i don’t understand why he uses this teological taught-this is a common fallacy of creationists, but this guy is a scientist! what the hell is this supposed to mean, “How can a simple single-cell amoeba understand that in time it will develop into a human being, needing a backbone, and requiring particular dimensions for the skull and limbs, and certain organs to function?”

    i believe this man MUST be engaging in straussian talk for the masses, that he really knows what’s up, but thinks evolution is morally corrosive. no palaeontologist could make a statement about man evolving from the amoeba with a straight face, neglecting the the various intermediate forms (oh, like multi-cellular->chordatic->land dwelling->mammalian->primates->apes->hominids->man).

    this is like asking, “how can something as complex as the human eye evolve randomly from an amoeba.” classic strawman tactics that don’t acknowledge that the structure of the eye did not emerge from the morphology of an amoeba but is the culmination of chordate evolution….

  2. You want us to be like the Pope? Dear lord.

    Oh, I don’t know. You could do worse. The Pope’s got a great hat. And his car is called “The PopeMobile.” That’s pretty cool.

  3. razib: I don’t understand him as well. I am not sure what he’s trying to do in that talk. As a paleontologist, he should obviously know better.

    Owl: What’s wrong with the pope?

    Andrew: I like his hat. But never heard of the PopeMobile.

  4. There is actually another stance proposed by a french philosopher way back in 17th century:
    God/Allah created the Universe as a machine within which he gave the governing laws. Those laws would lead to us, because God/Allah intended that result. That way God/Allah may have created the Universe and that Universe could still give rise to life the way evulotionists claim (that is from a pond of biosoup.).

    Finally as a believer it is always troubling when someone turns into a judge a claims to be the only one who can read the scriptures. The unfortunate nature of the scriptures is that they are open to interpretations hence the thousands religous factions.

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