Live from Cairoston

Islam and Evolution

The best reconciliation between Evolution and Islam that I know of is the narrative that Adam is the first human being begotten from non-human ancestors and that the spectrum of non-human species from higher apes down to the first cell are all bi-products of God’s creation of Adam from inorganic dust (i.e. Evolution is the mechanism through which God created man). The best critique of this narrative that I know of is that this narrative is a modern revisionist product to accommodate the theory of Evolution in our religious framework. Given that this narrative was never produced or endorsed by the first generations of Muslims, it is therefore inauthentic (this critique was brought to my attention by Daniel Jou in a lecture tonight – see here too).

Daniel’s lecture helps me articulate here that the best reconciliation is not necessarily the best response. I would think that an authentically Islamic narrative regarding our origin is incommensurable and incompatible with another narrative that rests upon a materialistic foundation.  However, as long as we address our challenges (health and food supply) from a materialistic perspective, Evolution is well articulated to express solutions (molecular medicine, biotechnology and genetic engineering). If we ever develop an alternative outlook distinct from the materialistic and address our challenges from that perspective, Evolution will cease to be relevant because it will fail to cater to the new prevalent vocabulary.

However its seems to me that to survive in today’s world, we need to strengthen our material backbone. Perhaps after a phase of material growth during which we develop a strong body, we can then shift to an alternative outlook that we are able to defend. In Darwinian terms, we’d be able to evolve from ape to Insan (man).


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