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
Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest