Monday, August 14, 2017

Atheism Delusion Ch. 1.6: Some Shia Clerics and the Theory of Evolution

Some Shia Clerics and the Theory of Evolution

Not all Shia clerics have rejected the theory of evolution. Actually, based on some of their statements, it can be understood that some of them accept it. But I have not found a clear, plain statement in which they accept it and explain how it is consistent with religion in general or with the religious scriptures, particularly the Quran.

At this point I will discuss the opinions of some of those who reject evolution, and we will weigh the content of their statements on the scale of science, and see what it is worth.

Sheikh Jafar Sobhani

In his book Al-Manahij al-Tafsiriyya [Interpretive Methods], Sheikh Jafar Sobhani [1] says:

Note [1]: Sheikh Jafar Sobhani, born in 1929, is a Shia scholar who received his education at the Islamic Seminary in Qom. He established the Imam Sadiq Institute in Iran and has written several books on the Islamic sciences.

Charles Darwin published his book The Transformation of Species in 1908. Based on his investigations, he proved that the human being is the last in the evolutionary chain of species, and that this chain traces back to an animal resembling an ape. He referenced his fathers and forefathers in a special tree, reciting a poem that says:

Those are my fathers, so show me their likes . . .

When this theory was published, it was poorly received within religious circles among the Christians, Muslims, and Jews. They had agreed that the human is a unique creature and that his chain traces back to Adam, the father of humankind, who was created in this form without any link to other animals.

Furthermore, some naive people use that same hypothesis as an argument for the contradiction between science and religion, and to separate them from one another. They claim that the path of religion is different than that of science, sometimes intersecting with it, and at other times diverging from it.

There were those who did not believe in separating science from religion, and they tried to subject the Holy Quran to that hypothesis. They started to interpret various Quranic verses that refer to the creation of the human being in a way that applied to that hypothesis.

The debate was intense between those in favor of taking the religious scripture literally and those in favor of interpretation. With time, the abovementioned hypothesis—and that concerning the creation of the human being that followed it—were proven to be false. (Sobhani 2005, 46. Arabic source, translated).

It seems that Sheikh Jafar, may God guide him to the truth, loves to jest. He wrote, “Those are my fathers, so show me their likes,” without recognizing that those “fathers”, as Sheikh Jafar called them, are physical ancestors that he undoubtedly shares with the biologist Charles Darwin. Therefore, if they are proven to be Darwin’s ancestors, then they are Jafar Sobhani’s ancestors, as well as the ancestors of every other human being on the earth. On the other hand, if they are not proven to be Sheikh Jafar Sobhani’s ancestors, or “fathers”, then they are definitely not Darwin’s either. Proving or disproving this is a matter of science that I doubt Sheikh Jafar and his fellow Shia authorities (marja) have the ability to delve into and discuss scientifically. This is especially true considering his statement regarding Darwin’s theory that is riddled with errors. He said that Charles Darwin published his book The Transformation of Species in 1908, but Darwin actually died in 1882, and he did not write a book titled The Transformation of Species. He did, however, write a book titled The Origin of Species, published in 1859, that did not deal with the origin of man. He addressed the origin of man and his relationship to the great apes in another book titled The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.

I truly do not know what to say. It is better for me to leave the reader to comment.

Sayyid Ali Sistani

On the “About” page of the Center of Belief Researches website that belongs to Sistani and represents the doctrinal front of the Supreme Shia Authority that he sponsors, it says:

We find the Supreme Shia Authority of His Eminence, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husseini Sistani—may his life be prolonged—with its programs and projects, to be the most ideal model in this field to defend the Shia doctrine and to spread the knowledge of Ahl al-Bayt pbut across the world.

The Center of Belief Researches is one of those blessed projects, as it was founded under the supervision and with the support of the Hujjat al-Islam, Jawad Shahristani. The official opening coincided with the anniversary of the birth of Imam al-Ridha pbuh on the 11th of Dhu al-Qidah, 1419 AH. It was founded to defend the doctrine, develop the correct concepts, and support the creed of Ahl al-Bayt pbut through all of its various activities. . . .

Our Center has decided to take on the task to stand against the secular doctrine and to rebut its claims. This is in response to the instruction issued by the supreme religious cleric, His Eminence, the Grand Ayatollah, Sayyid Ali Husseini Sistani—may his life be prolonged—regarding the necessity of this endeavor. (Sistani 2011. Arabic source, translated).

The following was also mentioned on the website:

The opinions mentioned on the Center of Belief Researches website do not necessarily represent the opinion of His Eminence Sayyid Sistani. (Sistani 2011, translated).

This means that they may represent his opinion, or they may not. The following is what I have found on Sistani’s ideological website concerning this important issue. If this does not represent his opinion, then he can deny it and state his opinion. Otherwise, the opinions are his, and he is bound by this response.

From Sistani’s Center of Belief Researches website:

A question regarding the falsehood of the theory of evolution:

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you.

I would like to ask you about Darwin’s scientific theory of evolution and development, which states that living organisms have evolved from simpler ones. For example, animals have undergone mutations throughout time, and have transformed into more complex beings. What do you think of this theory? Does it go against Islam? Does it apply to humans?

Thank you, and we ask God to protect you and to always help us learn what is beneficial from you. Mustafa, America.


Respectable brother Mustafa,

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you.

It has been scientifically proven that this theory is false. Perhaps the simplest thing refuting this theory is that, based on the calculation of probabilities, it would take millions of years for a simple cell to transform into a more complex one. This is the case for a single cell, so what would it be for one animal transforming into another?!! It would take billions of years, and this has been proven to be false. This is one way to refute this theory. There are other ways as well, and all of them make the theory of evolution unable to withstand scientific criticism.

Furthermore, in our Islamic doctrine, we have a clear opinion about how the creation of man began. The Holy Quran states it here as the Almighty says: {[He] Who perfected everything He created, and began the creation of man from wet clay} Chapter “The Prostration” 32:7. Thus, the creation of man began from wet clay, and not from another animal as evolutionists say. The Almighty says: {He created man from dry clay that is like pottery} Chapter ”The Abundantly Merciful” 55:14. He also says: {And We created you, then We formed you, then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam.” So they prostrated, except for Iblis. He was not of the prostrating ones} Chapter “The Heights” 7:11. And the Almighty says: {Indeed, We created them from sticky clay} Chapter “Those Who Set the Ranks” 37:11. The Almighty also says: {And When your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will create a human being from the dry clay of formed mud. ✷ So, when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down to him, prostrating”} Chapter “The Rocky Tract” 15:[28-]29. In addition, there are narrations from the prophets and successors pbut that explain how Adam, the father of humankind, was created.

Therefore, the theory of evolution is incompatible with the above. May you remain under the protection of God.

          Abu Hussain commented [on the above]:

“We hope that you elaborate and we are very grateful. May God help you to do good deeds.”

[The Center of Belief Researches then responded as follows:]


Honorable brother Abu Hussein,

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you.

Quoting from Thimar Al-Afkar [The Fruits of Thoughts] by Sheikh Ali Al-Korani Al-Amili, 354-357:

The theory of evolution contradicts many modern sciences . . . placing it in an unenviable position. One of these contradictions concerns physical facts . . . Here is this contradiction: The sun and other stars burn and emit tremendous amounts of thermal, radiative, and light energy into the depths of the universe. But this massive amount of energy cannot be expected to spontaneously return to the sun and other stars. If you leave anything for a certain period of time, it will quickly decay . . . If you leave a piece of meat out, or a piece of fruit or food, you can see that it spoils after a certain period of time and you have to take certain precautions to protect it from spoiling, like refrigerating it. However, this precautionary measure only helps for a certain period of time. If you abandon a house or a palace, it will deteriorate after some years . . . and so on . . . Thus, everything is moving in one direction toward deterioration, decomposition, and putrefaction. Entropy: in order for scientists to explain the concept of order and disorder in the universe or in any system, they use the term ‘entropy’. Entropy refers to the amount of disorder, which means the amount of energy that is of no benefit. The second law of thermodynamics is known as the law of increasing entropy. Professor F. Bush says, ‘All spontaneous changes occur such that chaos in the universe increases. This is simply the format of the second law applied to the universe as a whole.’ The American scientist Isaac Asimov says, ‘According to our information, all changes and transformations are toward increasing entropy, and toward increasing disorder and increasing chaos, and toward destruction.’ In the same article, he goes into more detail about this topic saying, ‘Another way of stating the second law then is: ‘The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!’’ Viewed that way, we can see the effect of the second law all about us. We have to work hard to organize a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily. Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty. How difficult to maintain houses, machinery, and our bodies in perfect working order; how easy to let them deteriorate. In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself—and that is what the second law is all about.’

We can sum up the first and second law as follows. Evolution scientist Jeremy Rifkin says about the second law: ‘Albert Einstein says, ‘[This law] is the fundamental law for all science,’ and Sir Arthur Eddington referred to it as ‘the metaphysical law for the entire universe.’ Therefore, this comprehensive law confirms that all transformations and changes that occur in the universe move toward entropy, which means toward increasing disorder, decomposition, and disintegration . . .

In other words, the universe is moving toward death, and physicists say: ‘The universe is moving toward heat death.’ That is because the transfer of heat from hot bodies (the stars) to cold bodies (planets and cosmic dust for instance) will stop one day, when the temperature of all bodies in the universe equalizes . . .

In this case, the transfer of heat between bodies stops, which means that all activity stops.

This means the death of the universe.

We can put both the hypotheses of evolution and physics together on a single graph. From this, we will see that there is a complete contradiction between the two. The hypothesis of evolution says that changes and transformations occurring in our world and in the universe lead to increasing complexity and order, which means that evolution is continuing at an ever increasing rate.

As for physics, it says that all current changes and transformations in the universe (and in our world) lead to increasing entropy, which means increasing disorder, decomposition, and disintegration.

This means that the universe is not moving toward something better but is instead moving toward something worse, that is, toward death. It also means that there is no spontaneous process that leads to increasing order, complexity, and composition.

This shows that time is a factor of annihilation, not construction. Despite this, all evolutionists resort to the issue of time to explain all the objections and difficulties facing the hypothesis of evolution. Therefore, when you rule out blind coincidence producing all of this order, complexity, and beauty that fills the universe, they say: ‘But this did not happen in a million years, it happened in hundreds or thousands of millions of years!’ It is as if when they mention a long time period, they think they are solving all difficulties and providing a solution for all the miracles that fill the universe!

This is ignorance. Rather, it is compound ignorance. We encourage those people to read physics books so they will know time—which they think is a factor of construction and development—is actually nothing but a factor of destruction, decomposition, and disintegration! So with which view should we side?! Should we side with a hypothesis (or theory, at best) that has not yet been proven to be true and is opposed by many scientists?! Or should we side with a scientific law that has been proven by thousands of laboratory experiments (each device used testifies to the validity of this law) and is accepted by all scientists without any exception?

Therefore, the hypothesis of evolution opposes science to its core.

Evolution toward something better cannot occur in a world that moves toward disintegration and destruction in all its activities, movements, and changes, so evolution is scientifically impossible: {Nay, but We hurl the true against the false, and it destroys it and it vanishes. And woe to you from what you describe} [Quran Chapter] “The Prophets” 21:18.

    May you remain under the protection of God. (Sistani 2011, translated).

Response: the above represents Sistani’s opinion and response regarding the theory of evolution, or at the very least, a response that Sistani is satisfied with. There is no problem with making its value and quality clear.

1. He said:

It has been scientifically proven that this theory is false. Perhaps the simplest thing refuting this theory is that, based on the calculation of probabilities, it would take millions of years for a simple cell to transform into a more complex one. This is the case for a single cell, so what would it be for one animal transforming into another?!! It would take billions of years, and this has been proven to be false.

He states here that the theory of evolution has been proven to be scientifically false. I truly do not know where that has ever happened!! Perhaps only in their delusions. In fact, this theory has been proven to be scientifically correct, especially with the advent of genetics and the advancements in this field. The theory of evolution is currently being taught in the schools of developed countries and in all well-established universities worldwide. In addition to that, many vaccines and medical treatments are being produced and developed based on the theory of evolution.

He then presented his scientific evidence, essentially just superficial words that reveal the author’s ignorance of the theory of evolution. It does not state that a mutation will transform one animal or species into another or that a sudden emergence of complex organs occurs (for example, for an animal without eyes to suddenly have eyes, and so on), such that a problem of mathematical probabilities would exist from this and stand in the way of the theory of evolution.

Actually, evolution occurs through a tremendous number of very slow steps, and since they are cumulative, there is no mathematical problem with the individual probability of each evolutionary step. Moreover, the probability of each step following the previous one is very high due to variation, reproduction, and natural selection being present at every stage. If all three are present, evolution is definitely present as well. This is a scientific fact denied only by people who do not understand variation, reproduction, and selection, and what these three terms mean. I advise Sayyid Sistani and the Center of Belief Researches to read what evolution scientists have written so they can understand the theory of evolution before issuing such statements that only demonstrate their ignorance of the theory and its mechanisms.

2. Their quoting of ambiguous Quranic verses in order to refute a proven scientific theory has no scientific value for biologists, and it does not have any religious value either. None of these verses conclusively oppose the theory of evolution so that someone could say, for example, that religion and evolution cannot simultaneously be true. Their statement that the creation of man began with wet clay, and their use of Quranic verses regarding this, can be refuted simply by pointing out that these verses pertain to the creation of the soul. The wet clay creation occurred in paradise as stated by the same Quranic verses that mention the story of creation, and it is mentioned in religious accounts as well. Paradise is a world of souls, not a physical, material world like this one, as we shall explain later, God willing. Their statement that the creation of man began with wet clay, and their use of Quranic verses regarding this, can be refuted simply by pointing out that the creation of man began when God created the first genetic plan, or the first replicable protein, because this protein was created from the chemical substances available on this earth, in its dust, or from dry clay particles. Thus, it is true that God has created man from wet clay, dust, dry clay, and earth, because the human being is the purpose of creation that is intended to be reached. Therefore, the verses about the creation of Adam from wet clay and dust can be understood to be in complete agreement with evolution. We also find other verses that clearly support the theory of evolution. The Almighty said:

{While He has created you in stages ✷ Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens in layers ✷ And made the moon a light therein and made the sun a burning lamp? And God has caused you to grow from the earth as a plant} Quran Chapter “Noah” 71:14-17.

The verses are clear: {He has created you in stages . . . And God has caused you to grow from the earth as a plant}. A detailed explanation of these verses will come later.

3. The summary of what they quote from Korani’s book is that entropy requires complex systems to move toward collapse, that the universe as a whole is moving in this direction, and that the earth and all that it encompasses is moving in this direction as well. According to them, there is relapse and regression rather than evolution. They conclude:

Therefore, the hypothesis of evolution opposes science to its core.

Evolution toward something better cannot occur in a world that moves toward disintegration and destruction in all its activities, movements, and changes, so evolution is scientifically impossible: {Nay, but We hurl the true against the false, and it destroys it and it vanishes. And woe to you from what you describe} 21:18.

In fact, this argument was first proposed by Dr. Henry Morris [1], who said that the second law of thermodynamics states that everything tends toward disorder, making the process of evolution impossible (Morris 1974).

[Note [1]: Henry Morris (1918-2006) was a professor of civil engineering and a practicing American Christian. He was also the president of the Institute for Creation Research and he published a number of scientific and religious books.

The fundamentalist Christians in the United States and Europe snatched this argument in order to respond to the theory of evolution. Some Arabs rehashed this argument after it was translated, and an associate of Korani’s relayed it. Instead of leaving it as it was, he added words to it that reveal complete ignorance. In the end, Korani snatched it and put it in his book. The Belief website belonging to Sistani then quoted Korani and adopted it as fact and evidence that refutes the theory of evolution.

Generally speaking, the argument above is scientifically insignificant, incomplete, and incorrect. As we shall see later, observational findings widely accepted by science today have demonstrated that the universe is flat, open, and expanding at an accelerating rate. Nevertheless, let us drop to their level and assume that the physical universe is a closed system to which the second law of thermodynamics applies—since entropy does not decrease within a closed system—and let us assume that entropy is increasing in the universe. This does not mean that every part of the universe is moving in a direction of increased entropy. It is possible for parts of the universe (that we have assumed to be a closed system) such as the earth, to head toward a more orderly state, at times, as long as it is balanced by other parts heading toward increased entropy. What is key is that the system as a whole does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. This reveals that their argument is built on a weak foundation and a superficial understanding of the second law of thermodynamics.

Moreover, this is despite the fact that the earth itself is not a closed system. There is actually more than one energy exchange system existing within it, as well as systems exchanging with it. For example, the sun gives heat and light to the earth, and parts of the earth experience night and day successively. This divides it into several systems and makes it go through a variable and continuous process of heat exchange since there are a number of systems, rather than just one. In addition to this, because the earth’s core is hot and consists of magma, there are unorganized processes of energy exchange between the core, crust, and atmosphere of the earth.

The space surrounding the earth is also a system, and heat exchange occurs between it and the earth.

The moon’s gravity also affects the earth, and this effect even changes over time, because the moon is continuously moving further away from the earth. [2]
Note [2]: The moon is distancing from the earth at a rate of about 3.8 centimeters per year (NASA, Accuracy of Eclipse Predictions, 1994).

Based on the state of the earth as described above, the law of thermodynamics for two systems would be that the total entropy of those two systems does not decrease when heat exchange occurs between them. This means that increasing order on earth is possible due to the energy exchange between the earth and the surrounding universe. Similarly, increasing order in only some parts of the earth is also possible, since several systems exchange energy with each other. What matters is that the total entropy of both systems—not just one—does not decrease.

The earth itself is neither a closed system nor a single system, but rather is comprised of multiple systems. There is no problem with entropy increasing in one place on the earth and decreasing in another, nor is there a problem with the deterioration of life, demolition, earthquakes, and floods occurring in one place on the earth, while at the same time construction, growth, and the flourishing of life occur in another. This is something we witness every day, and it does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.

Furthermore, the fact that the universe has not headed toward collapse in the past or present is a topic that has been settled. It has been scientifically proven—by observing a certain type of supernova, cosmic background radiation, and the Doppler effect—that the universe is flat and its expansion is accelerating, and that this will continue for a long time to come. We will address this issue later when we discuss dark energy.

I believe that my explanation of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics is sufficient to rebut the prior simplistic argument. But to make it even more clear, let us leave entropy and go to the conclusion that they depend on, that the universe has moved, and is still moving, toward disintegration, decay, and collapse. This is incorrect. In fact, it is actually the complete opposite. According to observations and precise astronomical monitoring, taking into account the Doppler effect, cosmic background radiation, and supernova observations, it has been clearly proven that the velocity at which galaxies are moving away from each other is accelerating. The material universe in which we live has been, and still is, expanding, multiplying, and being added to. Even the galaxy that we live in still contains clouds of gas and dust that bring about the formation and birth of new stars, and this will continue for a long time to come. This scientific fact, proven beyond doubt, is enough to refute what Korani claimed in his book.

In addition, according to the standard model, or the big bang theory, the universe did not begin as a compound, complex universe, but rather began as a point of singularity, or quantum event, as proven by scientific evidence such as the divergence of galaxies, and the cooling of the universe over time. Then the big bang occurred, and matter began to gradually form. It is clear that the universe is still young, still expanding, and still being added to. According to precise scientific calculations that depend on accurate observations, the universe is not currently heading toward collapse, nor has it done so in the past. In fact, it is being added to and expanding.

Even if we assume that the universe has a positive curvature, like the surface of a ball rather than being flat, and that it will eventually head toward contraction and collapse, that would not be scientifically possible until the universe reaches its maximum expansion point, then heads toward contraction and collapse when the positive energy within the universe—the energy pushing it to expand—is unable to resist the gravity of matter.

The universe has not reached the maximum possible expansion point. Actually, its rate of expansion is accelerating.

Therefore, their claim that the universe has been, and still is, heading toward collapse, based on the second law of thermodynamics, is scientifically incorrect. It is also inconsistent with the facts provided by accurate astronomical observations and mathematical scientific calculations. Also, according to the Doppler effect and the presence of cosmic background radiation, the universe is not currently heading toward collapse. And it did not begin as a complex, compound universe, then head toward decrease and collapse. On the contrary, it began as a simple universe, then headed toward augmentation, structure, and complexity, and it continues on this course now.

If we apply what was, and is still happening, in the universe as a whole—that it started out from zero and then augmented—to the earth and its inhabitants, just like Korani, his associate, and Sistani and his center wanted us to do, then there is no problem with evolution on the earth, and the trend of life, or organisms, toward multiplicity and additional structure and complexity. It actually completely corresponds with the general course of the universe, past and present, toward expansion and multiplication.

I have responded with the above answer and demonstrated the mistake that Korani wrote in his book and that Sistani published on his ideological website. I have shown that the universe was, and still is, being added to and expanding, and that this will continue for a long time to come. However, it would have been enough to respond to them with the fact that growth, being added to, multiplication, and the trend from simplicity to complexity and multiplicity, and toward an optimal state and improvement are occurrences that we see every day in life on the earth. If evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, then the growth and multiplication of plants violates it as well. And if evolution is not possible for this reason, then the growth and multiplication of plants is not possible either.

A plant starts as a seed, or a genetic plan, which then grows and is augmented with the passage of time. This applies to the growth of the fetus and the baby animal as well. There is no difference between the growth of a fetus, plant, or child, and evolution. They all demonstrate multiplication, augmentation, and a trend from simplicity to complexity over time. If evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics—as they claim—then the growth of fetuses, plants, and children violates the law as well, yet we see fetuses, plants, and children grow, augment, and multiply.

Note: I do not know how Korani, Sistani, and his “Belief Center”—all having adopted the statements above—can make physics an axis on a graph. In fact, it is the first time I have heard that physics, with all that it is, can even be an axis on such a graph. I hope they do not keep their genius all to themselves. I hope they send this graph to well-established universities around the world so that these establishments can learn how physics can be an axis on a graph like that in order to share the benefit. If they do not know what physics is, then there is no problem with giving them a simple definition. Physics is the branch of science that deals with the behavior of matter, energy, and dimensions (such as the three spatial dimensions and the dimension of time), as well as the interactions and associations between them and the laws that tie them together.

I am not ridiculing those people and the ignorance that they have presented, because we have too much on our plate to be concerned with ridiculing anyone. I only wish to draw the attention of the deceived and oppressed followers of Ahl al-Bayt to the great lengths these people will go to in order to do what they do best: shamelessly preach without knowledge.

This is the reason why every believer in Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad pbut, who fears for their faith and their hereafter, should not trust such people to make a decision regarding their hereafter for them.

Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi and His “Dialogue” with Darwin

Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi [3] responded to Darwin’s theory in a book he called Between Islam and Darwin. He identified himself in the beginning of the book as “His Eminence, the Supreme Religious Authority, Imam Shirazi, ‘may his life be prolonged’.
Note [3]: Muhammad Al-Shirazi (1928-2001) was an Iranian Shia cleric. He wrote many books on a variety of subjects including politics, science and religion.

There is no harm in going through some of Shirazi’s arguments against the science of historical geology and the theory of evolution in order to determine whether they have scientific value, or whether “he heard incorrectly and answered likewise”. Shirazi wrote in Darwin’s name and attributed speech to him, and then responded under the name “Muslim”, a name he chose for himself in his “dialogue”.

In his book, Shirazi wrote:

Darwin [what Shirazi imagines Darwin would say]: The experiment is examination and other evidence.

Examination: If a person were to examine the layers of the earth, he would find fossils of plants, animals, and humans. The fossils of each layer are different than the fossils of the others. Also, the closer a fossil is to the crust of the earth, the closer it is to being ideal, and the further away the fossil is from the crust of the earth, the further it is from being ideal.

Muslim [Shirazi responds to what he claims are Darwin’s words]: How is this connected to evolution, knowing the origin of things, and that the human being used to be a monkey?

Darwin [what Shirazi imagines Darwin would say]: Now I say, the connection is:

1. The bottom layer of the earth contains fossils of clam, sponge, coral, shrimp, fish, a unicellular shelled organism, and an alfalfa plant.

2. The second layer contains pine trees, palm trees, reptiles, birds, fish, and marsupials.

3. The third layer contains snakes, whales, apes, and modern trees.

4. The fourth layer contains mammoths, wooly quadrupeds, human beings, and all modern trees. . .

Muslim [Shirazi]:

First of all, how can you prove your claim that these layered fossils exist? And how can you prove your claim that the fossils in each layer have evolved from the fossils of the previous one?

. . . .

Fifth: If we were to assume that humans do not exist at all in the lower layers, would this successive change of fossils prove evolution to be true? What if someone told you that God created a sponge in the lower layers, and so on, how would you respond?

Furthermore, does the existence of a small car on the first floor of a building, a bigger car on the second, and yet a bigger one on the third, and so on, since they have various shapes, prove that the car evolved by itself and that each one was not manufactured separately?

Moreover, let us suppose that a landslide occurred in New York City and then a thousand years later, a person discovered the building whose floors contained the cars. Would they have the right to say the same thing as you did? How would you answer them if they said so? What is the difference between what you are saying and what they would say? (Al-Shirazi 1972. Arabic source, translated).

Response: Just like that, with the stroke of a pen, and with extremely simplistic arguments, he wants to eradicate historical geology in all its splendor, and its ability to determine the age of the layers of the earth, and thus the age of the fossils therein. Shirazi says:

How can you prove your claim that these layered fossils exist?

Then, in his dialogue, he claims that science, Darwin, or whoever he is talking to, could not answer this question!

It is apparent from the building example that Sayyid Shirazi imagines that geologists classify the layers of the earth based on their order and which one is on top, without any scientific standards or laws to significantly reduce the risk of falling into error. Thus he imagines that they would overlook natural occurrences such as landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or movements of the earth’s tectonic plates without monitoring them by using scientific standards of classification. He should have first become acquainted with the geological methods of classifying and determining the age of the earth’s layers, the conventional mechanisms and methods of examination, and whether or not those methods are scientifically accurate, so that he would not present such a naive and worthless argument while at the same time calling himself an “Imam” (a divine leader) and an “Ayatollah” (a sign of God)!

In general, anyone searching for the truth need only investigate to find that the following scientific methods are used to classify the age of the earth’s layers:

1. Relative Dating Method

This method depends on certain factors, including the fact that in any rock layer sequence not deformed by cleavage or severe folding, the lower rock layer will be older than the one above it, and so on. Therefore, determining the older layer is not random in the way that Shirazi imagines. Rather, it is a classification subject to scientific standards. Basically, this method determines the age of the rock layers relative to others without knowing the actual age of each layer.

2. Absolute Dating Method

This method makes use of the radioactive isotopes of elements. With the passage of time, the nucleus of an atom decays, forming a radioactive isotope. This decay occurs at a constant rate over time for each element. Therefore, the time period of a rock layer that contains a radioactive isotope can be calculated by comparing it to its known original isotope. This method has been well known for decades, and was well known long before Shirazi wrote his book. It is now used to determine the age of rock layers with high accuracy. Several isotopes are used to determine the age of rocks, fossils, and organic materials, such as carbon (C) and argon (Ar).

This is how Shirazi responded to Darwin and the evolution scientists:

And how can you prove your claim that the fossils in each layer have evolved from the fossils of the previous one?

The answer to this is very simple. We have earth layers, one on top of the other, that we have examined using highly accurate scientific methods that leave no room for error. We have found that the bottom layer is the oldest, the top layer is the newest, and the age difference between layers sometimes reaches hundreds of millions of years. The older layers contain primitive organisms, and as we move toward the present, the organisms are more developed, evolved, and complex. Therefore, it cannot be said that the entire process of creation occurred in a single burst, because some of these organisms came hundreds of millions of years after others. Thus, the inevitable conclusion, based on accurate scientific data, is that some organisms came after others. In fact, even bodily complexity and multiplicity came after a simplicity that preceded them by hundreds of millions of years.

The analysis, classification, and comparison of the organisms was then carried out by means of rigorous sciences, such as comparative anatomy, with the most advanced analytical devices. According to scientific evidence and research, it has been found that they are generations of organisms that evolved from one another.

Now whoever rejects the results of these scientific tests and analyses would say that these organisms were created directly, each group in a particular period of time. However, they should explain why God created them in bursts and made it look as if one evolved from another. Was it to mislead the people?! The Almighty is far above that!

Therefore, the issue is simple: these organisms have evolved from one another.

Today we can test this in a laboratory, manipulate genes, and create new species of organisms.

Shirazi also says:

Ninth: Assuming that the first cell was a living cell is not enough to provide life for millions upon millions of organisms. Where would the life of these organisms come from? Does the existence of one piece of iron explain the existence of millions of tons of iron? Certainly not! (Al-Shirazi 1972, translated).

Response: I do not know if Shirazi even understands the concept of reproduction. Does he know that in a laboratory a single bacterial cell can multiply to form millions of bacterial cells?! I believe this is enough to prove that the multiplication of life is something that is very natural and ordinary, if the raw materials and suitable conditions are available. I also believe it is indisputable that the earth provides sufficient conditions for life to multiply, and this is something that can be easily tested in a laboratory. The variation of life forms is both extremely natural and inevitable, as long as we keep in mind that there is a basis for physical life—the genetic plan—and that there are mutations that can always occur in this plan, leading to variation. If variation, reproduction, and a natural environment that selects the most fit to survive are all present, and the living organism transfers its genes to the next generation through reproduction, evolution will definitely occur.

Shirazi also says:

Second: If nature selects the fittest, why do primitive plants and animals still exist? Why do apes still exist? Why didn’t nature transform them into the best form?

Third: Why do you see the unfit attack the fittest and eliminate them? For example, lions prey upon humans, and poisonous animals like scorpions and snakes sting or bite humans (i.e., the fitter animal) and kill them, and germs (microbes) kill humans, who are more fit.

Fourth: Why do things that are more fit regress to a less fit state? Just as humans become weak, die, and then turn into dust, the same thing happens to plants and animals.

Fifth: Why are there fossils of extinct animals that belong to the highest classes as far as size of body and perfection of form . . .

Sixth: What is this nature that selects?

If it has a mind, comprehension, and feeling, then what is it?

If it has no mind or comprehension, then how does it select?

If someone said, “This piece of iron has selected that brick to be its mate,” wouldn’t that be ridiculous and ludicrous?

How could nature be credited with this “alleged” selection that happens to be better than the selection of all scientists, wise men and philosophers, people of science, comprehension, and experience?! (Al-Shirazi 1972, translated).

Response: Shirazi’s statement that apes and plants did not evolve is incorrect. These are historical matters that can be easily resolved by comparing fossils and referring to facts concerning archaeology and fossils. For example, it has been proven that flowering plants did not exist in the past. This means that plants have evolved. Apes have also changed and evolved, as the apes we see today are completely different than the first apes. There were no great apes in the past. In fact, seventy million years ago, there were no apes at all. Rather, only small mammals existed. Other mammals, including apes, evolved from them, following extinction of the dinosaurs.

As for Shirazi’s statement that an individual from among the lower-ranked animals kills an individual from the higher-ranked ones:

For example, lions prey upon humans, and poisonous animals like scorpions and snakes sting or bite humans (i.e., the fitter animal) and kill them, and germs (microbes) kill humans, who are more fit.

His assumption that this example refutes natural selection proves that he does not understand a thing about natural selection. Lions, scorpions, snakes, bacteria, and viruses all represent nature’s tools that surround the species undergoing natural selection, which is the human being in his example. These tools select the individuals of that species that are most fit to survive, or that are able to escape, overcome these obstacles, and pass their genes on to the next generation. Moreover, members of the same species sometimes play this role with even more ferocity than members of other species, as they compete for limited space in a shared environment.

I will present an example based on Shirazi’s own examples, so that those who have been deceived by his words can understand what I am saying:

Let us assume that we went back two million years to a time when a human species called Homo erectus existed. This species had a small brain (larger than that of a chimpanzee, but smaller than that of Homo sapiens, or the modern human being). It is believed that the modern human species, Homo sapiens, evolved from Homo erectus and became a separate species about two hundred thousand years ago. Now let us imagine that we are observing a Homo erectus group consisting of ten adolescent females and ten adolescent males surrounded by deadly predators like lions, venomous and deadly animals like snakes and scorpions, and deadly bacteria. These twenty adolescents differ from one another, as is always the case. Some are tall and others short. Some have completely straight legs and others have legs that are still slightly bent, an inherited trait that reduces their speed. Some have strong bodies and others have weak ones. Some have a strong resistance to bacteria, and others a weak resistance to bacteria. Some have larger than average brains and others smaller. When they are attacked by deadly predators, the strongest, fastest, and most intelligent will usually survive, and the weakest, slowest, and least intelligent usually perish. For example, the intelligent ones will find a way to prevent a snake bite more frequently than the unintelligent ones, and in this manner the intelligent one (the one with the larger and better brain) will survive, reach puberty, mate, and pass his genes to a new generation. Generation after generation, and by means of variation, selection, and reproduction, the size of the brain and the straightness of the legs will become more firmly established, as is the case for resistance to bacteria and other traits. Likewise, some of nature’s tools of selection for the lion include humans, deer, scorpions, snakes, and bacteria. Therefore, if we have two lions, one of them strong and fast, and the other weaker and slower, to the point where it is slower than the average deer and antelope that live in its natural environment, this weaker lion will in all probability perish, or be so weak that it cannot compete with other males to mate, reproduce, and pass its genes to the next generation. On the other hand, the strong and fast lion will in most cases be able to mate, reproduce, and pass on its genes. This is how nature selects those most able to survive and endure.

As for the deer, one of nature’s tools of selection is the lion, and nature will select the fastest deer most capable of eluding and escaping predators. In this way, the genes most able to keep up with their environment endure, while the genes that cannot keep up will be eliminated. This is natural selection and survival of the fittest, and it is not as Shirazi understood it to be—that members of a less developed species are unable to harm any member of a more developed species. He presented his argument based on this misunderstanding.

The rest of Shirazi’s arguments are also based on his misunderstanding of natural selection. If he had known that natural selection actually means the survival of organisms most fit to live and reproduce in their natural environment, then he would not have presented this simplistic set of arguments. For example, natural selection of tall animals that exist in an environment in which food is available at a certain height means that animals tall enough to obtain plentiful food will pass down the tallness trait to their offspring. It also means that the short animals will either die, or they will not obtain enough food to reproduce and pass their genes on to the next generation. Moreover, an environment that provides plenty of food for a particular animal allows it to increase in size whenever mutation provides the genes for this. Therefore, natural selection of the fittest means that conditions within nature allow for the survival of some individuals of a species that possess favored genes, while not allowing for the survival of others. This is because these conditions are suitable for the survivors, not those who perished—those who did not pass their genes on to the next generation because they did not reproduce.

Shirazi also wrote the following imaginary dialogue on evolution that he imagines as a dialogue between him and Darwin. Let us take a look at what Muhammad Shirazi wrote:

Darwin: The second proof is evolution, which occurs in many animal species. So we see that if a human is born in a cold climate, he will become white. The same applies to animals. Thus, one species has a certain condition, shape, and certain habits in each environment. The same is the case with respect to plants. Therefore, if this is possible, then there is no difference between horizontal evolution, in which the color, size, and habits of one animal change due to differences in climate and other conditions, and vertical evolution, in which a cell turns into a plant, a plant turns into an animal, and an animal turns into a human.

Muslim [Shirazi]: Your inference is very strange, as there are two ways of looking at it here:

1. That individual animals, plants, or humans differ slightly depending on the differences in the environment and climate, while at the same time, all individuals belong to a single species, as is the case with humans, but some are black, red, or yellow.

Or that all members of the species are bears, but all polar bears have certain traits, and the other bears in warmer areas have other traits.

Or that all members of a species are the wheat plant, but the Iraqi wheat has its own traits and the Australian wheat has its own traits.

2. That one thing differs drastically based on environmental differences, for example, being an ape in one environment, or a human or plant in another, even though all of them have a single origin.

What we see, and what everyone knows to be correct, is the first way of looking at it.

As for the second way of looking at it, what is your evidence to prove it?

It is like saying:

Just as mud can be used to make bricks, pottery, and adobe, it can also be used to make iron, ivory, and water.

Could such an analogy be possible?

Darwin: I am thinking!

Muslim [Shirazi]:Then your second piece of evidence has been refuted. What is your third piece of evidence? (Al-Shirazi 1972. Arabic source, translated).

Response: Darwin is slandered in Shirazi’s imaginary dialogue. Darwin did not divide evolution horizontally and vertically, just as he never said that a cell can turn into a plant, a plant into an animal, or an animal into a human. Also, he did not advocate transmutation, nor do any of today’s evolutionary biologists or punctuationists.

As for Shirazi saying:

What we see, and what everyone knows to be correct, is the first way of looking at it.

This means that Shirazi has acknowledged evolution without realizing it. However, he acknowledges it within the limits of the rank of family, like the Ursidae family, but rejects it when it reaches a level of higher taxonomic separation. Therefore, he is the one who should present evidence that evolution stops at the rank of family. Why wouldn’t it reach a higher degree of separation, a point it must reach over time, since it is a normal result of the accumulation of evolution over time?

We have genetic mutations that definitely lead to variation. The combination of genetic mutation, natural selection, and reproduction leads to the emergence of new and distinct traits in organisms, such as size, shape, hair type, claws, etc. The differences become substantial due to their accumulation over time. Shirazi and people like him accept all of this within the context of a single family. This means that they accept the accumulation of differences over hundreds of thousands of years, or maybe even a few million years. But Shirazi does not accept that these differences reach the point of becoming a different family, even though this differentiation is an inevitable and natural result of the accumulation of variation over a longer period of time—tens of millions of years, for example. This is long enough to emphasize this separation in a substantial way, resulting in the biological classification of an organism into a different family.

He accepted that there is continuous modification and restructuring of the organism that depends on its environment. This restructuring and modification is responsible for the variation between polar bears and sun bears, considering the tremendous differences between them in shape, size, weight, color, food type, and metabolism. However, he rejects the argument that modification and restructuring reach a level of variation that places them into different families, for example. Shirazi is required to present evidence for this, because classification is an inevitable result of the accumulation of modification and restructuring. It is a process that relies on genetic mutation, and in nature it is theoretically possible for genetic mutation to form species, genuses, and families, when given sufficient time.

It has been proven in the laboratory that genes can be structurally altered. This can be done in an uncontrolled way, as in the case of radioactive bombardment, or in a controlled way, as is widely done today.

Furthermore, a point has been reached where a complete bacterial genetic plan can be constructed using non-living chemical substances. In this way, we can theoretically produce a human being in laboratories by using the ovum and sperm of chimpanzees, or by using just the cell nucleus of a chimpanzee and the enucleated ovum of a woman. All we have to do is alter the chimpanzee chromosomes in order to have the same number and form of human chromosomes, which is theoretically possible.

A point has been reached that goes even farther than this. Just as a complete bacterial genetic plan was produced in the laboratory using non-living chemical substances, and it was implanted in the cytoplasm of bacteria and the chromosomes were able to live and replicate, a complete human chromosome plan can also be produced using non-living chemical substances (Alleyne 2010) [4], because the difference between bacterial chromosomes and human chromosomes is like the difference between a small building and a large one, as they both have the same building materials. We should keep in mind that biological classification of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans places them all in one family—the Great Apes—just as all bears are placed into one family, Ursidae. The difference between humans and chimpanzees is like the difference between sun bears and polar bears. Actually, some of the differences between the bodies of the chimpanzee and the human are smaller than the differences between the bodies of the sun bear and polar bear. Therefore, when Shirazi admitted that evolution exists, considering it exclusively within the limits of the family, without realizing what he was saying, he admitted that chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans have evolved from a common origin as well, since they are all members of one family.
Note [4]: Richard Alleyne, [Scientist Craig Venter Creates Life For First Time In Laboratory Sparking Debate About â€کPlaying God], Telegraph.Co.Uk, last modified 2010, accessed December 10, 2015, entist-Craig-Venter-creates-life-for-first-time-in-laboratory-sparking-debate-about- playing-god.html.

As for his statement:

It is like saying:
Just as mud can be used to make bricks, pottery, and adobe, it can also be used to make iron, ivory, and water.
Could such an analogy be possible?

This is meaningless, because making bricks from clay does not alter its atoms at the level of nuclear particles. Thus we cannot compare this to its transformation into another element such as iron, for example, since the transformation of one element into another requires the restructuring of nuclear particles. We have two levels here that are entirely different, so this comparison is pointless. It is also meaningless for Shirazi to compare this simplistic example to what happens in evolution, since the variation in evolution occurs at one molecular level—the restructuring of chromosomes, which have only one molecular composition in all organisms. The only difference between chromosomes in each organism is their arrangement. In fact, it would have been better for him if he had not made this comparison. This concludes my response, but there is no harm in explaining things further.

It seems that Shirazi does not know what he is talking about because when it comes to the evolution of life, we are talking about the restructuring of chromosomes—the building blocks of life. And when comparing chromosomes to elements, the analogy would be the restructuring of atomic nuclei—the building blocks of elements. Chemical elements can be reformed and restructured. Had he asked any astrophysicist or physicist, he would have learned that iron is produced from other elements in the surrounding universe, and in tremendous quantities as well, through nuclear fusion, which is a process that occurs in the stars around us. Nuclear fusion causes the structuring and formation of the elements. So when our discussion is taken to the subatomic level, and it is about the transformation of atomic nuclei, there is no difference between iron, oxygen, carbon, helium, and hydrogen, since they are all constructed from the same building blocks. Therefore, elements can be reformed and restructured to produce other materials from the same primary building materials of the elements. This is what happens in stars as they burn hydrogen and helium. Heavier element nuclei that contain more protons and neutrons are produced as a result of the fusion of light element nuclei. In this way, carbon, oxygen, and the remaining elements are produced until we reach iron, the most stable element. Then, if a supernova explosion of the star occurs, the nuclear fusion process goes beyond iron to heavier elements, such as uranium.

We can create iron from another element if we control the atomic nuclear particles (protons and neutrons). All we need is a large amount of energy to bring these particles close enough together, within a distance that allows the strong nuclear forces to work, and then nuclear fusion occurs. This amount of energy is available in stars, for example. For this reason, the production of one element from another element occurs in the universe that surrounds us all the time. However, it is even easier to produce lighter nuclei from heavier nuclei through nuclear fission, as the large amount of energy that brings particles close enough together is not required. We must simply induce the fission of an unstable nucleus, like the nucleus of uranium-235. This is what occurs in nuclear reactors, but in a controlled way. For example, nuclear fission can be controlled by adding a material like a cadmium alloy to absorb excess neutrons so that nuclear fission proceeds at an acceptable rate, rather than at an exponential, uncontrolled rate that turns it into an atomic bomb.

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