Link #5: Charles Darwin Wasn’t the First to Promote the Idea of Evolution
There is a lot of proof for the theory of natural selection and evolution on the whole. In fact, in the last post, we spoke about how the existence of human beings can be traced back to the need to have a better sense of smell in the first mammals on the planet. However, if someone were to ask you who discovered the concept of evolution, what would you say? You’d promptly say Charles Darwin, right? Most of us would, but we’d be wrong.
Evolution Was Discovered by the Muslims Years Before Darwin!
Evolution is rooted in the theory of natural selection, which Charles Darwin wrote about in the 19th century. The concept of natural selection, itself, is fairly simple to understand. It’s like a story, in fact.
Consider one particular type of species, living in one particular type of environment. The genetic material (genome) of this species will undergo random changes (mutations) as individual animals genes interact with the changing conditions of the environment.
Some random mutations will end up making the animals stronger, while others will make them weaker. Some may have no effect at all. As the animals’ environment will consist of challenges, and resources to overcome those challenges, the animals whose mutations make them stronger will survive better than the weaker animals.
Now, when animals have babies, these genetic mutations are passed on to them too. Thus, the animals that survive will further their species by passing on the mutation to their offspring. In contrast, the weaker animals would be unable to do this (because they’ll be dead).
It Was Taught During the Islamic Golden Age
The idea of evolution was actually studied during the Islamic Golden Age, which spanned the period between the 9th and 12th centuries. In fact, one of the earliest writings on evolution was produced by Al-Jahiz, in the 9th century. Scientific learning during this time included the idea of evolution along with a number of other subjects, such as psychology, sociology, geography, ophthalmology, chemistry, physics, medicine, astronomy and mathematics.
Islamic science, during that period, was a collection of knowledge drawn from the four corners of the planet, including places like the Middle East, India and Greece. Such was the level of progress during the Islamic Golden Age that even devout Muslim scholars believed in the idea of evolution.
Science of Evolution with an Islamic Twist
There was a minor difference in how Muslims viewed evolution. They believed that the concept of evolution was true, but that God was behind the whole idea. They thought that the whole process was supervised and personally handled by God.
The same belief system exists today in Islam. For instance, the Big Bang Theory says that the universe came into existence at one random moment. Muslims believe that the universe did come into existence, though it wasn’t because of a random event but because God decided that the universe needed to exist.
Can you Guess the Next Link in the Chain?
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You can view the full list of links in the chain here.