Q: For decades, there has been speculation that humans evolved from apes, especially given that humans and chimpanzees share about 95% of the same DNA. Scientists have yet to find the missing link that shows the specific transition point from ape to human, however, articles like this one (Ancient skeletons challenge modern religion in ‘humanity’s cradle’) fuel the theory. Moreover, the article claims that discoveries like these debunk the idea of a Creator, and the traditional understanding that Muslims and Christians have about divine intervention in human creation. What is your perspective on this?

A: The article speaks of bad science and bad religion. It is true what the article says about the traditional idea that Muslims and Christians have of creation. However, note that the Jews are not mentioned. That is because they are smart enough to realize that scripture is not meant to be scientific, but to give meaning to life, which equates to myth and legend. We cannot read the Qur’an as a science book or even seek to find compatibility with science except for the seventh century era of the Prophet Muhammad. Outside of that, it would be a futile exercise. The Book will contain guidelines to enable us to be scientific, but not about the subject itself. The latest view, which I endorse, is that of Nasr Abu Zayd. The Qur’an says God created us in six stages, and also says a day with God is like 50,000 years. No one then, and even now, could envisage 50,000 years except as being too long to measure. Hence "kun" and "yakun" also have no concept of immediacy as the clear meaning, it could mean evolution. Even God evolves in the Bible. He shows Himself to Abraham, but not to Moses (He comes close), and He certainly did not show Himself to the Prophet Muhammad. His name also evolves in the Bible. So evolution is, in this scenario, part of religion.

Posted November 1, 2013