AMRA members on BBC Evolution Debate

On the 13th of January 2012 a group of young Ahmadi Muslim scientists appeared on the BBC discussion programme “The Big Questions,” to try and give a voice to the Islam Ahmadiyya viewpoint on the question of whether it’s ‘time for all religions to accept evolution as fact?’ 

The primary focus was on the two rows of panelists: one panel in favour of evolution, and the other panel opposed to it. The latter consisted of creationist Christians and two Muslim speakers, whilst the former primarily of atheistic scientists as well as a Muslim and Christian who had embraced evolution. The discussion, presided over by Nicky Campbell was rather meandering, with no point fully answered by either side due to the shortage of time, but the issues that came up were whether evolution should be treated as fact or fiction, whether humans are well designed or exhibit elements of poor design, and whether Adam (pbuh) was spontaneously created.

The Muslim viewpoint that was given the most exposure was the creationist viewpoint, where an Imam and the founder of the Islam Channel were arguing that Adam (as) was spontaneously created. Inayat Bunglawala was the only other Muslim voice that received a good amount of exposure, who mentioned some evidence that Evolution was first described by early Muslim  scientists, something which the orthodox speakers hotly disputed. Neither of the two speakers gave any direct evidence from the Qur’an to support their viewpoint.

Eventually, the host gave some time the audience, and although there were around 6 Ahmadi Muslims in the audience, unfortunately only two appeared on the show (in the 33rd and 53rd minutes). The first quoted the Qur’an, 2:30 which states that Adam (as) was placed in the Earth, not in Paradise as the biblical account tells us and many Muslims believe, in which God says, “I am about to put a Khalifa [Adam] in the Earth.” The second set of verses quoted repudiates Muslim Creationism: “What is the matter with you that you do not ascribe dignity to Allah. And certainly he has created you in stages… And Allah has raised you from the Earth like the growing of vegetation.” [71:14- 15,18]

The second Ahmadi speaker pointed out that about an eighth of the Qur’an exhorts believers to use their faculties of reflection and reasoning, thus showing that in principle Allah has told us to study his creation to find signs of the Creator. He then quoted a verse that directly applies to the theory of evolution in the words “Allah creates whatever he pleases and selects. It is not for them to select. Glorified be Allah, and far is He above that which they associate with him.” [28.69] This verse speaks to the fact that creation in mutations, and environmental pressures selecting certain characteristics must both the guided by the same conscious mind to lead to increasing conciousness and complexity. Explaining this Hazrat Khilafatul Masih IV, Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) writes in his Magnum Opus “Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth,”

“…here we wish to point out that to attribute creative factors to genes and to simultaneously deprive them of conscious know-how is inherently contradictory. It is absurdity supreme to begin the evolutionary journey from genes without resolving the factors which created genes themselves. It is impossible for a proponent of Darwinism to demonstrate how natural selection could have played any role in the creation of genes. How and why genes create without possessing the creative faculties of a conscious mind is the question which should have been addressed first. In a nutshell, a conscious creator of genes has to be identified or it has to be admitted that unconscious genes created themselves as though they were highly competent and conscious creative faculties. It is intriguing to visualize any mindless thing creating itself with masterly dexterity. The naturalists begin their journey without investigating this most essential prerequisite. Their failure to address this question is because it is impossible for them to answer it without disrupting their own evolutionary scheme. The Holy Quran has a straightforward answer to resolve this riddle by declaring:

“And thy Lord creates whatever He pleases and selects. It is not for them to select. Glorified be Allah, and far is He above all that they associate.”

The main thrust of this verse is that the task of selection is primarily the prerogative of the Creator and the two cannot be separated.

God proclaims Himself to be that Creator Who selects from His own creation. This is how it should be and this is exactly what it is. No naturalist can alter this and replace Him with a mindless Creator of his own choice. In a desperate attempt to do so, they try to combine in natural selection the additional role of a creator. Thus they would much rather believe in a know-nothing mindless principle both as a selector and a creator—lacking consciousness either way. They prefer to be fathered by a mere nothingness.

All they are left with is a mindless, non-personal, deaf, dumb and blind principle which they believe must have created them. Incidentally, this brings to mind the saying: like father, like son. They may take pride in this, but we beg to strongly differ. We much rather prefer to be the work of a Creator Who possesses a supreme mind and the power to implement what He designs. We have to believe in Him or we must deny ourselves the faculties of head and heart which we seem to own. If the non-believers have any option to select, it is here they must exercise that option. Which of the two creators will they select for themselves, is a matter for them to decide.”

To read more about this subject the reader is highly recommend Part 5 of this book, all of which is available online:

Life in the Perspective of Quranic Revelations—A Brief Introductory Chapter
http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_1.html

Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest
http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_7.html

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3 comments

  1. why can’t we be a liitle less tough on darwin.Rather than saying that we reject darwian evolution why can’t we just say that the word ‘nature’ in darwinian evolution is ,for us, the hand of God i.e His attributes.I have seen some ahmadies completely subscribing to creationist/semi-creationist versions of evolution just in a bid to deny natural selection or Darwin.When actually the right way to interpret Quran is by subscribing to a similar journey of evolution, in which speicies including humans originated and evolved through a common ancestor rather separately.I think that darwin laid down the evoltionary process right just derived a wrong conclusion

    1. I agree with you in that we of course believe evolution occurred, but that to draw atheistic conclusions from it is certainly incorrect. And I would think/hope the Ahmadis you met are certainly one-offs! Darwin was of course just a scientist, it is his present day ‘followers’ that ascribe atheistic beliefs to evolution, which as Khalifa Rabe (rh) points out in the chapters linked above is absurd. Especially when it was early Muslims that first described Natural Selection! Said Al-Jahiz in the 9th century:

      “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

      I’ll actually post a really good article on alislam and Evolution and the Hand of God.

      1. Bear in mind brothers that we do not believe the human being evolved from apes, but take apes and humans to be a product of convergent evolution. The Promised Messiah (as) mocked the idea of humans evolving from apes, and both Khalifa IV (rh) and V (aba) have said they deny the specific concept of humans and chimpanzees having a recent common ancestor (I can provide video evidence).

        We believe that humans are the descendants of another animal in another lineage (not apes). New research has been recently done, by a researcher at my university, that may provide an alternative common ancestor of humans:
        http://news.utoronto.ca/our-furry-scampering-common-ancestor

        Bearing that in mind, there are contradictory articles on alislam. Some claim (as is the correct Ahmadi view) that we believe in all facets of evolution other than the atheist doctrine of blind chance and apes being involved in the evolutionary lineage of humans. However others, I have read, actually try to defend the idea that humans and chimpanzees have a recent common ancestor, a heterodox view from that of our Khulafa’ which diverges from what they have said (although of course a credible opinion by a person. I am not stating that we should enforce views, or that even the Khulafa’ have independent authority on all matters scientific).

        Why both types of articles which are clearly contradictory are on alislam I don’t know. Perhaps one of you should contact the alislam lads. lol

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