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The Error of Islamic Evolutionism

In its October 2-8 edition, the Turkish magazine Tempo published an article titled “Islam Accepts Darwin” as its cover story. That same article was also published in daily Hurriyet and on various Internet sites. Sabah columnist Emre Akoz cited the file as a reference in an article called “Islam Makes Peace with Darwin,” dated October 2.

The report in Tempo magazine was based on interviews with three academics from the Ankara University Theology Faculty. The teachers in question were of the view that the theory of evolution is compatible with Islam.

However, that view is mistaken. There can be no question of Darwinism “being compatible” with Islam, because Darwinism violates the fundamental tenet of Islam, the fact that God created and fashioned the universe and all living things. Darwinism is a theory which was established to make people deny that truth. It is essentially a theory which targets religion. In the same way that there can be no reconciliation between Islam and Marxism, which makes the invalid claim that “religion is the opium of the people,” so there can be no reconciliation between Islam and Darwinism, which holds that “life is the product of chance.”

Besides, there is no need to attempt such a reconciliation, because Darwinism has no scientific foundation. Contrary to what is thought, it is not “a scientific fact” but a falsehood maintained despite the scientific facts.

In this article we reveal how and why “Muslim evolutionists” who seek a reconciliation between Islam and Darwinism are mistaken. Our aim in doing so is certainly not to disparage Muslim evolutionists. Our aim is to be a means whereby they come to adopt a more correct perspective by explaining why their approach to the theory of evolution is mistaken, to be of intellectual assistance to them in that regard, and by explaining why it is that evolutionists keep the subject on the agenda.

Where “Muslim Evolutionists” Are Mistaken

Those people known as “Muslim evolutionists” — or Theistic evolutionists in general — have fallen into the error of imagining, as a result of materialist suggestion and propaganda, that the theory of evolution is a scientific fact, and seek a “middle road” between the theory and faith in God. These people accept the Darwinist scenario concerning the origin of life word for word, yet try to establish a “reconciliation” between the theory of evolution and Islam by maintaining that this scenario is under the control of God.

This perspective is gravely mistaken, however. That is because the theory of evolution is an atheistic concept with a secret ideological agenda, put forward in order to reinforce and firmly establish atheism, and fiercely backed by materialist circles. It has been constructed on materialist philosophy and offers a materialist interpretation of world phenomena.

Materialist philosophy has been in existence since ancient Greek times, and claims that matter is the sole absolute reality. Materialists maintain that the universe was shaped by itself as a result of coincidences, and that life emerged by evolving from inanimate matter, again as the result of blind chance.

For that reason the first theory of evolution was proposed by ancient Greek materialist philosophers. Greek or Roman thinkers such as Epicurus, Democritus and Lucretius laid the foundations of the atheistic theory of evolution to which Darwin would add the details hundreds of years later. Born in ancient Greece, this myth re-emerged onto the agenda with the primitive scientific understanding of the 19th century, and since the theory of evolution provided an alleged support for materialism – whether it was scientific or not – it was immediately accepted by materialists.

Opposed to the theory of evolution there is the fact of creation. The truth of creation, which can be understood by means of reason and observation (in other words by the scientific method) alone has been taught since the dawn of history by monotheistic religions. All the three monotheistic faiths have revealed that God created the entire universe by commanding it to “Be!” and that the flawless functioning of that universe is evidence of God’s superior creative artistry. This truth is also revealed in many verses of the Qur’an. In the verse “[God is] the Originator of the heavens and Earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.” (Qur’an, 2:117) God reveals that He miraculously created the whole universe from nothing. In Surat al-An’am it is revealed:

It is He Who created the heavens and the Earth with truth. The day He says ‘Be!’ it is. His speech is Truth. The Kingdom will be His on the Day the Trumpet is blown, the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible. He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware. (Qur’an, 6:73)

This divergence of views between materialism and belief in God is the fundamental difference between religion and atheism. There can be no question of a Muslim seeking intellectual “reconciliation” on this subject. There can be no reconciliation with a theory put forward in order to deny God and His creation.

Materialists Support “Religious Evolutionism” for Tactical Reasons

Indeed, evolutionists know that such a “reconciliation” will be damaging to religion, and are thus trying to force certain Muslims to take that step. In order to gain the support of believers and to weaken their intellectual struggle against the theory of evolution, evolutionists are trying a different method, that of covertly supporting the idea of “evolutionary creation.” Although they themselves do not believe in God, but make a divinity out of chance and are totally opposed to the truth of creation, they remain silent in the face of the idea that God created living things by means of evolution, and generally even encourage the idea, since they think that this will accelerate the acceptance of their theories.

Yet this is only a tactical move. The aim is to eliminate the objections of the devout and to impose the theory of evolution on all of society. Following the dissemination of the theory of evolution in this way, the vague interpretation of “religious evolutionism” will be done away with, to be replaced by the materialism which represents the essence of the theory of evolution. Muslims must take great care not to be taken in by this tactic and not to be a tool of this cunning strategy.

The Acceptance of Darwinism Does Not Show That It Is True

One of the errors made by Muslim evolutionists is to believe that the theory of evolution is a scientific and proven fact. This can be seen in the Tempo magazine article, and it is noteworthy that one of the respected theologians who support the theory of evolution says, “The theory of evolution is today a valid theory.”

The truth is, however, that the theory of evolution has today lost all its foundations in the face of modern scientific findings. Research both at the molecular level or in the fields of biology or palaeontology has totally invalidated the claims that living things came into being as the result of an evolutionary process.

It is a grave error to ignore these facts and to think in line not with the scientific evidence but with “the trends in the scientific world.”

One of those identifying this erroneous analysis was former Bogaziçi University professor of philosophy the late Arda Denkel, who stated that evolutionists in Turkey were unable to give a scientific response to creationism, that they only say, “This theory is widely accepted in the scientific world,” but that this is meaningless:

Does the fact that many respected individuals and bodies have accepted evolution prove that the theory is correct? Or is the truth of the theory to be decided in court? Does the fact that respected and powerful people believe something to be the truth actually make it so? I would like to recall one historical event. Did not Galileo Galilei speak and defend the truth in the face of all the respected individuals of his time, of lawyers, and especially of scientists? Receiving the support of respected and dominant circles is something which neither creates truth nor has any direct connection with what is scientific. (Cumhuriyet Bilim Teknik Supplement, February 27, 1999, p. 15)

As noted by Prof. Denkel, the wide acceptance of a theory is no proof that it is true. The history of science is full of facts which were first embraced by the minority, the truth of which was only later generally accepted.

Another aspect of the matter is that the theory of evolution is not “a theory accepted by the scientific world.” The number of scientists who reject the theory of evolution has grown apace over the last 20-30 years. Most of these have freed themselves from Darwinist dogma by seeing the intelligent design in the universe and living things. Countless studies by these scientists have revealed the invalidity of evolution.

The Myth That Darwin Believed in God

Another error made by Muslim evolutionists is that Darwin believed in God.The fact is though that despite being faithful to Christian belief in his early years, Darwin lost his faith in parallel to his development of the theory of evolution. He is also known to have increasingly turned towards atheism. Biographies of Darwin frequently state that the only reason why he did not openly voice his atheism was in order not to upset his devoutly Christian wife, Emma. The atheism which Darwinism failed to openly express in his books can clearly be seen in his letters. In one letter he said: “… disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete…” (Gertrude Himmerfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, p. 381)

In another letter, written in 1878, Darwin openly confessed his atheism:

… This conclusion (theism) was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the “Origin of Species”; and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker… (Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Co., 1896, Chapter 1.VIII., Religion)

Leaving the question of Darwin’s personal beliefs aside, the attempt to reconcile Darwinism as a theory with belief in God is also empty. Cornell University biologist and historian William Provine, himself an evolutionist, says:

As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism. (William Provine, No Free Will, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1999, p. 123)

Erroneous Interpretations of Qur’anic Verses

At the root of the way in which some Muslims esteem the theory of evolution lies the fact that they ignore God’s power to create and destroy whatsoever He wishes at the moment He wishes. Such evolutionist Muslims are thinking under the influence of “naturalist” dogma which assumes that the laws of nature are immutable and unchanging and that no phenomenon can take place outside those laws. This, however, is a serious error. That is because the concepts we refer to as “the laws of nature” stem from God’s creation and maintenance of matter within a specific order. These are not properties which stem from matter itself. For that reason, in the same way that God has set these laws out, He can alter them when He wishes, and performs actions outside them.

We human beings call these actions “miracles.” For instance, the way that the Companions of the Cave remained alive for more than 300 years is a miracle outside the laws of nature. The people whom God killed and later resurrected as revealed in the verses of the Qur’an are also miracles. Every event takes place by the creation of God, but those which appear to be in conformity with specific laws are “normal” for us, while the others are “miracles.”

The element which needs to be understood here is that God is not bound by the laws which He has created. If God so wishes he can do something totally contrary to the laws of nature. This is easy for God.

The True Meaning of Creation from Water

When we look at the verses in the Qur’an concerning the creation of living things and man, we can clearly see that this happens not within the laws of nature but in a miraculous manner. God reveals His creation of living things thus:

“”God created every animal from water. Some of them go on their bellies, some of them on two legs, and some on four. God creates whatever He wills. God has power over all things.”” (Qur’an, 24:45)

The verse is pointing to the basic groups which live on land (reptiles, birds and mammals) and it is revealed that God created these from water. Close inspection shows that these were not created “from one another,” as envisaged by the theory of evolution, but “from water.” In other words, they were created separately by God shaping a common material.

The fact that this common material is water is evident. Water is the most fundamental component of organisms. Mammal bodies consist of come 70% water. It is thanks to the water in its body that every living thing establishes communications inside the cell, among cells and among tissues. There can be no life without water.

The interesting thing is that some Muslims seek to attach a meaning to the above verse which is compatible with the theory of evolution. Yet the “creation from water” in question has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. The theory makes no such claim as “every living thing emerged from water and evolved” for such a relationship to be established. On the contrary, the theory maintains that living things evolved from one another, a claim which totally contradicts the fact revealed in the Qur’an that every living group was created from water (created separately).

The Period Before Man

This verse is another which Muslim evolutionists propose as evidence:

“”Has man ever known a point of time when he was not something remembered?”” (Qur’an, 76:1)

It is necessary to force the meaning of this expression to portray it as evidence of “evolutionary creation.” Indeed, this verse is not interpreted as an evolutionary process by Islamic scholars. For example, Omer Nasuhi Bilmen offers the following interpretation:

These verses reveal that the Lord created human beings capable of hearing and seeing from a drop of water before they were ever known or existed and that He subjects them to a test … Man never existed at the beginning, but a while later he was incarnated from a drop of water, from earth and mud, and made a body. That human being was not then known, and neither the people of the sky nor those of the earth knew his name and why he had been created. Later on, the consciousness of the soul began to be inspired in him.” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, The Turkish Text of the Qur’an and a Commentary Thereon, Vol. 8, p. 3915)

Imam Taberi interprets the verse thus:

Such a period of time passed before the man (Adem) that he had no fame or superiority. He was merely sticky and unfixed mud.” (Imam Taberi, Taberi’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 2684)

For that reason, to describe the expression of time in the verse as an “evolutionary process” is a subjective interpretation which has no basis in the Qur’an.

God Miraculously Created Man from Clay

In the Qur’an God reveals that the creation of man took place in a miraculous manner. The first human being was created by God shaping clay into the form of the human body, and afterwards breathing a soul into it:

“”Your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am going to create a human being out of clay. When I have formed him and breathed My Spirit into him, fall down in prostration to him!”” (Qur’an, 38:71-72)

“”We created man from the purest kind of clay.”” (Qur’an, 23:12)

On close inspection it is revealed in the verse that, unlike the claims of Muslim evolutionists, man was not created from a primate or any other living thing, but from mud, an inanimate substance. There is no “natural process of evolution” here. What there is, however, is God’s direct, miraculous creation. Indeed, the expression “I created with my two hands’ used by God in the following verse, shows that man was directly created by the might of God:

“”He [God] said, ‘Diabolis, what prevented you prostrating to what I created with My own Hands? Were you overcome by arrogance or are you one of the exalted?””  (Qur’an, 38:75)

In short, there is no “evolutionary” account of the creation of man and living things in the Qur’an. On the contrary, it is revealed that God miraculously created man and all living things from such inanimate substances as water and earth.

The Evolutionism in Islamic History Is an Influence from Greek Philosophy

Although there is no evolutionary account in the Qur’an, there have been people in the history of Islam who, under the influence of Greek philosophy, have adopted materialist and evolutionist elements in that philosophy and sought to make them compatible with the Qur’an. Those who made such evolutionist interpretations were particularly the Ikhwan as-Safa” society active around Basra.. This community, affiliated to the Ismaili sect, resembles Freemasonry in some respects, and it is interesting that modern-day Masons praise the society. For instance, Selami Isindag, a well known Turkish Masonic grand master and opponent of religion, writes:

In the Islamic world there was a counterpart of Masonry called the Ikhwan as-Safa” [The Brethren of Purity]. This society was founded in Basra in the time of the Abbasids and published an encyclopedia composed of 54 large volumes. 17 of these dealt with natural science and it contained scientific explanations that closely resembled those of Darwin. These found their way even to Spain and had an influence on Western thought. (Dr. Selami Isindag, “Kurulusundan Bugune Masonluk ve Bizler” (Freemasonry and Us: From Its Establishment Until Today), Masonluktan Esinlenmeler (Inspirations from Freemasonry), Istanbul 1977)

The evolutionist ideas carried to the Islamic world from ancient Greece by means of the Ikhwan as-Safa” in turn influenced certain Muslim thinkers of the time. As well as those who supported the theory of evolution in the Muslim world at that time there were also thinkers who believed in materialism, denied the existence of the hereafter and were unable to agree that God possesses infinite knowledge of events, in short, thinkers who were caught up by perverted beliefs. Rather than taking such false ideas as models, present-day Muslims should avoid them.

In fact, the great Islamic scholar Imam Ghazali totally invalidated this ancient Greek philosophy which had entered the Islamic world. In his work Al-Munqidh min al-Dalal (Deliverance From Error), Ghazali directly criticised the evolutionist Ikhwan as-Safa” society. He declared that this was a false philosophy directly influenced by ancient Greek thinking. In his work Fedaih-ul-Batinniyye, he demonstrated the perversity of the teachings of the Ismaili sect, to which the Ikhwan as-Safa” belonged.

Not Being Deceived by Materialist Propaganda

As we stated at the beginning, the attempt to reconcile Islam with Darwinism is a tactic used by materialists to impose Darwinism on society. Muslims must be aware of this.

When evolutionists say, “Let us not confuse religion and science, belief is one thing, the fact of evolution another,” their aim is to undermine Muslims’ intellectual struggle. The real message is this: “There is a real world, and this can be understood through science, and science shows us that there is no such thing as creation, although those who wish can believe in what they want in their own personal views.”
This is a great deception. It is an evident truth, the literal truth, that God created the universe and living things. Every detail in the universe is proof of God’s creation. It is evolution, bereft of any evidence, which is the superstition and which can be regarded as peoples’ “personal beliefs.” Muslims must be aware of this deceptive suggestion which places the truth under the dominion of materialist philosophy and seeks to portray the fact of creation as a “personal belief.”

This indoctrination can easily be overcome. It is sufficient to think rationally, with common sense, to free oneself from the dogma that science and materialism are one and the same thing, and to study the true results of science. Everyone who does this will see that the origin of life on Earth is intelligent design, in other words, creation.

It must not be forgotten that it is impossible for a Muslim who has a detailed knowledge of the theory of evolution to remain ambivalent in the face of the evolutionists’ claims. In addition, thinking deeply about God’s creation and His art which encompasses the whole universe, clinging tightly to the Qur’an and understanding the facts revealed in the Qur’an is the simplest way of freeing oneself from this negative influence.

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