Creation and evolution
Two main theories are in dispute about the origin of man; the theory of creation opposed by the theory of evolution.
The school of creation is deep-rooted in ancient history, starting from the earliest human civilizations and ending with the Abrahamic Faiths.
- The ancient roots of the school of creation:
The story of creation is found in many ancient texts, as it was known to the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and the Hindus.
We can also find appreciable proof in the Shinto belief and the Zoroastrianism.
- Inscribed on the tombs of tell Amarna some Pharaonic prayers hail the one god, like the one attributed to Amenophis IV or Ikhnaton and reads:
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings
(Adolf Ermann, handbook of Egypt’s old religions)
- Clay as origin of mankind is what the Sumerian creation myth asserts, which can be clearly seen in the words of Enki, the god, to his mother, Nammu:
Oh my mother, the creature whose name thou has uttered, it exists,
Bind upon it the (will?) of the Gods;
Mix the heart of clay that is over the Abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay
Thou, do thou bring the limbs into existence;
§•Written on the sixth tablet of Enuma Elis, The Babylonian epic of creation:
When Marduk heard the word of the gods,
His heart prompted him and he devised a cunning plan.
He opened his mouth and unto Ea he spake
That which he had conceived in his heart he imparted unto him:
“My blood will I take and bone will I fashion
I will make man, that man may
I will create man who shall inhabit the earth”.
◊♦ The philosophical and historical roots of the school of evolution:
- The Greeks:
Evolution dates back to immemorial times, beyond the first teacher, Socrates, and It’s commonly associated with the name of Heraclitus, A Greek philosopher of the late 6th century BCE, very little is known about him from what his successors preserved in their books.
According to both Plato and Aristotle, Heraclitus held extreme views, for he held that
(1) everything is constantly changing and
(2) opposite things are identical, so that
(3) everything is and is not at the same time.
In other words, Universal Flux and the Identity of Opposites entail a denial of the Law of Non-Contradiction. Plato indicates the source of the flux doctrine: “Heraclitus, I believe, says that all things go and nothing stays, and comparing existents to the flow of a river, he says you could not step twice into the same river”
Heraclitus’ theory can be understood as a response to the philosophy of his Ionian predecessors. The philosophers of the city of Miletus (near Ephesus), Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, believed some original material turns into all other things. The world as we know it is the orderly articulation of different stuffs produced out of the original stuff. For the Milesians, to explain the world and its phenomena was just to show how everything came from the original stuff, such as Thales’ water or Anaximenes’ air.
Heraclitus seems to follow this pattern of explanation when he refers to the world as “ever living fire” and makes statements such as “Thunderbolt steers all things,” alluding to the directive power of fire. But fire is a strange stuff to make the origin of all things, for it is the most inconstant and changeable. It is, indeed, a symbol of change and process.
The opinions of Heraclitus have been interpreted poorly to serve atheism, as he had not proposed evolution but “change”, and both are different.
Change is the transformation of an object’s state, e.g. water becoming ice upon freezing, which doesn’t mean evolution of water into ice, as it’s not permanent and can be reversed by heating.
Attributing biological evolution to Heraclitus is just a fragile presumption. of all Greek philosophers only Anaximander spoke of this, and claimed that mankind descended from a fish-like predecessors. great but futile efforts were employed by biologists twenty-five centuries later to justify those claims.
Empedocles maybe the most renown Greek philosopher who tried to draw a clear picture of biological evolution (in humans and animals), except it was unrealistic and far from scientific.
He claims; the bodies of humans and animals appeared as separate parts in the start: the head, the arm and the trunk, the all those part came together coincidently after most of it had degenerated to form the shapes as we know it.
- The Romans:
Much later, the Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus (99-55 B.C.E.) wrote his long philosophical poem De Rerum Natura (“On the Nature of Things”). In this poem Lucretius proposed, among other things, an “evolutionary” theory similar to that of Empedocles:
And in the ages after monsters died,
Perforce there perished many a stock, unable
By propagation to forge a progeny.
For whatsoever creatures thou beholdest
Breathing the breath of life, the same have been
Even from their earliest age preserved alive
By cunning, or by valour, or at least
By speed of foot or wing. And many a stock
Remaineth yet, because of use to man .
This method was adapted by some of the historians of modern science, who went far in analogy and made it the bases of “natural selection”
- The church fathers:
Among the church fathers who spoke of evolution was Saint Augustine who interpreted the story of creation of the book of genesis, and rendered it allegorical, and in doing so he claimed the first organisms came into being by the process evolution
The medieval Christian Theologians did not research the transformation and change of organisms by the natural processes, but some did happen to discuss it, usually incidentally, like Albertus Magnus and his disciple Thomas Aquinas.
Aquinas concluded that development of living creatures, such as maggots and flies, from nonliving matter, such as decaying meat, was not incompatible with Christian faith or philosophy, but he left it to scientists to determine whether this actually happened or not.
- The Muslims:
Muslims knew evolution at least five centuries before Charles Darwin, given the great influence of Greek philosophy had on Muslim philosophers
14th century Tunisian jurist Ibn Khaldun who in his Muqaddimah wrote as follows:
“One should then look at the world of creation. It started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have only the power of touch. The word “connection” with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the next group.
The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and to reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of the monkeys, in which both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man after (the world of monkeys). This is as far as our (physical) observation extends”
And he mentioned again, in the same book, elsewhere:
“Revelation has already been discussed by us at the beginning of the book, in the chapter dealing with people who possess supernatural perception. We explained there that the whole of existence in (all) it’s simple and composite worlds is arranged in a natural order of ascent and descent, so that everything constitutes an uninterrupted continuum. The essences at the end of each particular stage of the worlds are by nature prepared to be transformed into the essence adjacent to them, either above or below them. This is the case with the simple material elements; it is the case with palms and vines, (which constitute) the last stage of plants, in their relation to snails and shellfish, (which constitute) the (lowest) stage of animals. It is also the case with monkeys, creatures combining in themselves cleverness and perception, in their relation to man, the being who has the ability to think and to reflect. The preparedness (for transformation) that exists on either side, at each stage of the worlds, is meant when (we speak about) their connection”
Matahar Bin Tahir, in his book “History after beginnings” or in Arabic” البدء والتاريخ”, mentions the dispute between the philosophers about the new genesis of Animals:
“And this is the sum of their collective sayings about the first appearance of animals, and Adam is an animal. To some, Adam appeared from the moist clay of earth, just like varmints, and his skin was crusted like that of a fish. Those crusts dried out and fell off as time elapsed. Others claim he didn’t appear as a whole but gradually, in parts, and attained the known human appearance as the different parts got connected over time”
- The story of creation in the old testament:
“then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed.”
(Genesis, chapter 2)
The creation of man is mentioned briefly in the Torah as compared to the story of the creation of the universe.
- The story of creation in the Holy Quran:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن صَلْصَالٍ مِّنْ حَمَإٍ مَّسْنُونٍ
And We did certainly create man out of clay from an altered black mud.
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِّن صَلْصَالٍ مِّنْ حَمَإٍ مَّسْنُونٍ
And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “I will create a human being out of clay from an altered black mud.
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن طِينٍ ثُمَّ قَضَىٰ أَجَلًا ۖ وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى عِندَهُ ۖ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تَمْتَرُونَ
It is He who created you from clay and then decreed a term and a specified time [known] to Him; then [still] you are in dispute.
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن طِين
And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay.
الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ ۖ وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنسَانِ مِن طِينٍ
Who perfected everything which He created and began the creation of man from clay.
The structure and some of the content of this article is credited to the published work of a Libyan intellectual; Dr. Siddique Basheer Nasr, a university professor.
Further research and authentication and translation are credited to me, the author of this series of articles.
1-Darwin’s Gift: To Science and Religion medieval
2-By Francisco Ayala
3- Muqadamah of Ibn khaldun Translated by Franz Rosenthal
4-Le livre de la création et de l’histoire d’Abou-Zéïd Ahmed Ben Sahl el-Balkhî. Publié et traduit par Cl. Huart
5- A History of the Middle East
By Saul S. Friedman
6- Adolf ermann, handbook of Egypt’s old religions
7- old testament, genesis.
8- AT-Tawasul, an intellectual periodical, 12th edition, author: Dr.Siddique Basheer Nasr.