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A Brief History of the Theory of Evolution

First and foremost, it has to be noted that the theory of evolution is not a scientific argument, but a dogmatic philosophy and a materialistic world view hiding behind the mask of science. However, it is not faith in this dogmatic philosophy, which has had a stimulating role in the birth and development of modern science, but faith in Allah.

Most of the people who have pioneered modern science believed in the existence of Allah, and while studying science, they sought to discover the universe Allah has created, to see His laws and the details in His creation. Scientists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Copernicus, Keppler, Galileo, Cuvier (the father of paleontology), Linnaeus (the pioneer of botany and zoology) and Isaac Newton all studied science by faith. They believed in the existence of Allah and that the whole universe came into existence by His creation. Considered to be the biggest genius of our age, Einstein was another devout scientist who believed in Allah.

Nevertheless, the theory of evolution came into view by the re-awakening of ancient materialistic philosophies and became widespread in the 19th century. This philosophy supposes that matter is absolute and infinite. This materialistic philosophy does not hold anything to be real except the matter, so it tries to explain the universe and nature through purely material factors. Since it denies creation right from the start, it puts forward that every being, whether animate or inanimate, appeared without any means of creation, but by mere coincidence and then acquired an order.

However, the human mind is organised to comprehend the existence of an organising will wherever it sees an order. Materialistic philosophy, which is contrary to this very basic characteristic of the human mind, produced "the theory of evolution" in the middle of the 19th century.

The Theory of Evolution: Darwin's Imagination

The person who put forward the theory of evolution the way it is defended today, was an amateur English naturalist, Charles Robert Darwin.

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Darwin had never taken a formal biology education. He only took an amateur interest in the subject of nature and living things. His interest drove him to volunteer for boarding on the official discovery ship named H.M.S. Beagle that set out from England in 1832 and travelled around different regions of the world for five years. Young Darwin was greatly impressed by various living species, and particularly by various finches he saw in the Galapagos Islands. He thought that the variance in their beaks was caused by their adaptation to their habitat. With this idea in mind, he supposed that the origin of life and species lay in the concept of "adaptation to the environment". According to Darwin, living species were not created individually by Allah, but came from a common ancestor and differentiated from each other as a result of natural conditions.

Although Darwin's hypothesis was not based on any scientific discovery or experiment, in time, he turned it into a pretentious theory with the support and encouragement he received from the famous materialist biologists of his time. The idea was that the individuals who adapted to the habitat in the best way transferred their qualities to the next generations, and therefore, these advantageous qualities accumulating in time changed the individual to a species totally different from its ancestors. (The origin of these "advantageous qualities" was unknown). According to Darwin, man was the most developed outcome of this blind mechanism.

Darwin named this process "evolution by natural selection". He thought he had found the "origin of species"; the origin of one species was another species. He published these views in his book titled The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection in 1859.

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While developing his theory, Darwin was impressed by many evolutionist biologists preceding him, and primarily by Lamarck. According to Lamarck, living creatures were passing the traits they acquired during their lifetime from one generation to another, and were thus evolving. For instance, giraffes evolved from antelope-like animals by extending their necks further and further from generation to generation as they tried to reach higher and higher branches for food.

But both Darwin and Lamarck were mistaken, because biochemistry did not exist at that time and genetics was unknown. Therefore, their theories depended totally on their powers of imagination.

While the echoes of Darwin's book lingered on, an Austrian botanist, Gregor Mendel discovered the laws of inheritance in 1865. These laws refuted the idea of passing the acquired traits onto subsequent generations. Not much heard of until the end of the century, Mendel's discovery gained great importance at the beginning of the 1900's. This was the genesis of the science of genetics. Again in the same years, the structure of the genes and the chromosomes was discovered. And in the 1950's, the discovery of the DNA molecule that includes the genetic information put the theory in a great crisis. The reason was the incredible complexity of the DNA, whose origin could never be explained by any random process.

All these developments should actually have caused Darwin's theory to be banished to the dusty shelves of history. However certain circles insisted on revising, renewing, and raising the theory up to a scientific platform. All these efforts were very meaningful in indicating that behind the theory laid some ideological intentions rather than scientific concerns.

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Harun Yahya

9 January 1999.

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[He is a well known writer from Istanbul who has written numerous books and articles on Islam, which includes the marvels of Allah's creation, the evolution theory, and politics. His articles have been published, not only in Turkey, but in other countries as well. His study aims to convey the message of the Qur'an, and to encourage people to think on issues such as the existence and the unity of God, and the Hereafter.]

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