I actually don’t understand the conflict between science and religion. Maybe there’s a conflict between science and certain strands of religious thought, or maybe Christianity or certain brands of it in particular. But in Islam, I don’t see a conflict. I haven’t heard any imam or sheikh or layperson denounce global warming as a myth or conspiracy. Nor do I understand what in Christianity is supposed to have a problem with the idea that humans can royally screw over their own environment. We’ve created toxic waste dumps, burning rivers, and acid rain, so I don’t understand why climate change is off limits.
Maybe evolution is more problematic for Muslims. Personally, here’s the way I see it; God created everything. I don’t know exactly how He did it, but it was easy for Him and it looks complicated to us. We don’t believe that everything was created in a literal “day”, perhaps because the Quran is absent of using that language, but also, logically, if the sun didn’t come until later in the week, then how did we have a day before it? Minor details. So in the course of everything being created, I don’t have any reason to believe that some animals weren’t created one way and eventually evolved into another. After all, one of the names of Allah is “Al Bari”, or “The Evolver”.
So let’s get to the thick of it; human evolution. I do have a problem with this because the standard story of human evolution doesn’t entirely make sense to me when looking at the entire spectrum of all known things in existence. It also doesn’t comport with the Islamic version of events, which is that Adam was created directly by Allah, taught the nature of all things, then placed on Earth. Pretty much the same as the Biblical version of events. The Biblical version of events has humanity at about 10,000 years old. I’m not aware of a predominate Islamic perspective on how old humanity is.
Now one problem with evolution, and humans in general, is an appreciation for time and its context. Human history is only around 5,500 years old; meaning, before that time, there is no recorded history of human events. No books or writings. Prior to that, humans simply passed the word along. Anthropology tells us that humans first ventured out of Africa 60,000 years ago. And evolutionary science tells us that humans first looked like humans 200,000 years ago. Unless someone has a firm belief on how old humanity is, pro- and anti-human evolutionists should be on the same page at this point.
Going back 6 million years ago, according to evolutionary scientists, humans first started diverging from apes and this proceeded until 200,000 years ago. This is where I think we need to review our context. Under this theory, in the 6 million years since humans diverged from apes, here’s a comparison of evolutionary family members:
HUMANS – splitting atoms, exploring outer space, flying through the air, telecommunications, gene splicing, subjugating all other species, changing the Earth’s climate
APES – still in trees and eating bananas
What doesn’t make sense is that, under evolutionary theory, we were at some point on the same level as other apes, and in fact, all other lifeforms. So why is there such an astronomical difference between humans and everything else in all of known creation? Furthermore, not only look at the difference between humans and apes over 6 million years, but look at the difference in just the span of recorded history of 5,500 years. Or even just the last 50 years! How can there be nothing else that comes even remotely close to human achievement? The best we can devise is ancient aliens descending from space; we have to use our own imaginations to come up with something else to rival our existence.
On a side note, while we do marvel at our modern achievements in engineering, science, and architecture, I encourage everyone to look further into the wonders of the ancient world. You’ll find engineering feats that aren’t even close to duplicated in today’s world. You’ll also find feats that are unexplained by today’s science and engineering. This side note is to point out that humans have been engineering impressive feats throughout recorded history (see: Pyramids).
Now I don’t have all of the answers. No one alive does. I’m not anti-science just because I don’t buy into the theory of human evolution. Frankly, I’m excited at what future scientific research may uncover. Until then, I’ll just continue to tow the party line, which is that humans were created by a Creator and placed on this Earth. That’s the story of the monotheistic faiths as well as every society’s folklore and tradition, from Navajo tribes to Chinese folklore. The names change, the details differ, but the theme is the same. The story of human evolution stands out, and for it to begin to hold water, there must be an explanation as to why humans are so far more advanced than everything else.