In the Name of God, Most Compassioate, Most Merciful
Thanks be to the Precious Beloved, this commentary was published by the Religion News Service. It is reproduced below.
It was an amazing find: Paleontologists recently announced the
discovery of an ancient fish that provides the “missing evolutionary link”
between fish and the first mammals that crawled onto land from the sea.
Published in the science journal Nature, scientists described the animal,
called Tiktaalik roseae, as having not only scales and fins — like a fish
— but also primitive wrists, fingers, ribs and a neck, like land animals.
University of Chicago scientist Neil Shubin, who co-led the team that
made the discovery, was quoted by The Chicago Tribune as saying, “It
represents the transition from water to land — the part of history that
includes ourselves. When we talk about the fish’s wrist, we’re talking about
the origin of parts of our own wrist.”
Is this another blow to the creationists, many of whom dispute the
theory of evolution precisely because of the lack of evidence of such
“transitional animals”? Moreover, is this a problem for me, a devout Muslim
who is a fervent believer in and servant of the One God of Abraham, Moses
and Jesus (peace be upon them all)?
As a believer, I do not accept that humans came from apes. I believe
what God told me in the Quran: that he shaped our father Adam with his own
hands and breathed into Adam the breath of life. Yet, as a physician, I also
cannot argue with science and the scientific method, and evolutionary theory
and biology are strongly supported by robust, well-conducted scientific
experiments. This is easily reconcilable in my mind.
While I am not arguing with the science behind evolutionary biology, I
look at it a little differently. I believe that all life on this Earth came
from one unique and all-powerful creator. While it is possible that fish
evolved into creatures that could both swim and climb on land, such as
Tiktaalik, it is equally possible that both creatures were created by God
and not related to each other at all. The fact that they may be genetically
and biologically similar, in my mind, only points to the unique stamp of a
The same is true with humans and apes. The fact the humans and
orangutans are genetically almost identical is truly fascinating to me. But
I do not conclude, however, that they are our “ancestors.” Rather, both
humans and orangutans are so similar because they were made by the same
creator. The fact that Tiktaalik’s wrist and arm are so similar to my wrist
and arm does not mean to me that the Tiktaalik is my long-lost ancestor.
Again, they are similar because we both have the same creator.
Every “creator” — whether it be a writer, painter, sculptor, carpenter
or architect — has his or her own unique style that can be readily
distinguishable. Well, the Lord God is the ultimate creator of all
“creators,” and I believe he has a “style” and “stamp” as well, and this can
be readily distinguishable when one studies the natural world.
Humans have the best hands, wrists, arms, etc. — I believe — not
because we have mutated from lower human-like species, but because “We (God)
have made humanity in the finest order” (Quran 95:4).
The researchers who made this remarkable discovery plan to go back and
try to find more species that may be other “missing links” of the theory of
evolution. If such discoveries are made, it will not shake my faith in God
one bit. On the contrary, it will only increase my love and awe for God, and
it will make me praise Him — the creator of all life — even more.