Evolution of life and Quranic perspective

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

32-7-9  الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ ۖ وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنسَانِ مِن طِينٍ  ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن مَّاءٍ مَّهِينٍ  ثُمَّ سَوَّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِهِ ۖ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ

He (Allah) who has perfected everything which He has created and He began the creation of man from clay/dust. Then He made his (man’s) progeny from an extract of an insignificant fluid. Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him from His Spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and heart (feelings), yet only few of you are thankful. 

The above ayat informs us that the creation of man started from clay/dust. Dust or clay is in-organic material. From in-organic matter to organic matter and then into present form of human being, stage after stage of creations (71:14, 84:19) may span several hundred million years. What course did this stage by stage evolution took, we don’t know as yet. The famous Miller-Urey experiment gives some hint about the first step, i.e the possibility of creation of organic matter from in-organic matter.

The Miller–Urey experiment[1] (or Miller experiment)[2] was a chemical experiment conducted in 1952, that simulated the conditions thought at the time to be present on the early Earth, and tested the chemical origin of life under those conditions. The experiment supported the hypothesis that putative conditions on the primitive Earth favored chemical reactions that synthesized more complex organic compounds from simpler inorganic precursors.

After Miller’s death in 2007, scientists examining sealed vials preserved from the original experiments were able to show that there were actually well over 20 different amino acids produced in Miller’s original experiments. That is considerably more than what Miller originally reported, and more than the 20 that naturally occur in life.[7] More-recent evidence suggests that Earth’s original atmosphere might have had a different composition from the gas used in the Miller experiment. But prebiotic experiments continue to produce racemic mixtures of simple to complex compounds under varying conditions.[8]

The experiments showed that simple organic compounds of building blocks of proteins and other macromolecules can be formed from gases with the addition of energy.

The living organisms undergo changes in their genes according to their environment and they change and adopt according to the changes in their environment. Genes are the codes of the program according to which the living organisms grow, age and die. How the evolution took place since the beginning of life on Earth, is still not understood properly and there are many theories about it. Quran tells us that Allah has created man from different stages and the first stage was dust. Dust and mud is in-organic material. So the beginning of evolution was from in-organic materials. Quran does not mention the time it took from mud to the formation of homo sapiens; it could have taken hundreds of millions of years in the making and we don’t know if it involved going through different animal stages or not. Science has also not found out for sure, as yet.

7:11    وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُن مِّنَ السَّاجِدِينَ

And We created you all, then We gave you (all), shapes; then We said to the angels to bow down to Adam, and they bowed down; except for Iblis; he was not to be of those who bowed down.

The above ayat states that after creating us and figuring us, Allah gave the order to angels to bow down to Adam. So it means that mankind had existed physically when Allah breathed His Spirit into the khalifa/vicegerent on earth. 

The below ayah states that Adam (representative of Homosapiens) was chosen by Allah over others. The subsequent generations of humans carried on after him. 

3:33  إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

Verily, Allah has chosen Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran over all the worlds.

4:1 يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً………

O mankind! Take guard of your Lord, who created you from a single Nafs (psyche), and created from it its pair, and scattered  from them men and women in large numbers………

What we dont’ know, is the complete story of evolution. We don’t even find evidence of mid way species e.g lets say if a specie is changing from form A to B, it would undergo transition stages. What we find is fully transformed species and not sure if we have evidence of transition forms.

The main standoff between Darwinism and religion is not that religion excludes evolution. It is mainly that Darwinism wants to exclude God from evolution. It postulates that evolution takes place without intervention of God. While the Book tells us that evolution is the mechanism by which God creates. We know that all living organisms have genetic coding in the form of DNA which directs the growth and eventual death of the living organism through out it’s life. This genetic coding/DNA is much more complex than the coding we see in high level computers of today and contains billions of lines of codes. For every coding which is programming step by step instructions, there has to be an intelligent being making the code,  as the coding cannot come into existence by itself by random events. This genetic programming which is part of every living organism is a proof of it’s creation by an all powerful and intelligent Creator. 

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZyRgYZe6tM)

 

71-14  وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا

He (Allah) has created you in stages.

76:1  هَلْ أَتَىٰ عَلَى الْإِنسَانِ حِينٌ مِّنَ الدَّهْرِ لَمْ يَكُن شَيْئًا مَّذْكُورًا

 There surely came over human a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning.

71:17  وَاللَّهُ أَنبَتَكُم مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ نَبَاتًا

And God sprouted/grew you from the Earth (as) a growth

84:19 لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَن طَبَقٍ

Ye shall surely travel from stage to stage.

29:20  قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ۚ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ يُنشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الْآخِرَةَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Say. “Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation, for Allah has power over all things.

Allah asks us to explore the land to find out evidence of how the creation began on Earth.

22:5  يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِن مُّضْغَةٍ مُّخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِّنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ ۚ وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ثُمَّ نُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ ۖ وَمِنكُم مَّن يُتَوَفَّىٰ وَمِنكُم مَّن يُرَدُّ إِلَىٰ أَرْذَلِ الْعُمُرِ لِكَيْلَا يَعْلَمَ مِن بَعْدِ عِلْمٍ شَيْئًا ۚ وَتَرَى الْأَرْضَ هَامِدَةً فَإِذَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْهَا الْمَاءَ اهْتَزَّتْ وَرَبَتْ وَأَنبَتَتْ مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ

O’ Mankind! if you are in doubt about the raising, then surely We created you from dust, then from a sperm, then from a clot, then from a lump of flesh, complete in make and incomplete, that We may make clear to you; and We cause what We please to stay in the wombs till an appointed time, then We bring you forth as a child, then that you may attain your maturity; and of you is he, who is caused to die, and of you is he, who is brought back to the worst part of life, so that after having knowledge he does not know anything; and you see the earth sterile land, but when We send down on it the water, it stirs and swells and brings forth of every kind a beautiful herbage.

Scientists believe that some where about 30000-70,000 years ago some thing unusual happened to homo sapiens probably due to mutation (this is what scientists think) which can be called ‘cognitive revolution’. This cognitive revolution made humans superior to all animals present on earth at that time.  They were able to develop languages and were able to think much higher concepts like religions, myths, legends, and fantasies making them far distinct and superior to all animals. Before gaining this cognitive ability, humans were not even at the top of food chain and were not much different from other animals living at that time on earth. This profound change in humans which can be described as a change from animal to human could be related to the incidence of creation of ‘Adam’ described allegorically in Quran. Quran describes that Adam was given the learning and language ability which made forces of nature subservient to him. وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا Adam is given the  language ability which comprise nouns and words and this sets him apart from other creatures. 

2:31 وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَٰؤُلَاءِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said. “Tell me the names of these if you are truthful.”